Interview with Helsing Junction Farm - 26 years and going strong!
We are lucky to source cabbage from awesome local producers like Helsing Junction Farm. Even luckier when they take some time out of their busy farm lives to answer our questions. Don't forget to check out Helsing Junction's website www.helsingjunctionfarms.com to learn more about their CSA, Farm Stand, online store, farm dinners, and other upcoming events.
We hope you enjoy getting to know Anne, Sue, and their team as much as we did!
Tell us about you and your farm team?
Helsing Junction Farm is owned/operated by, Annie Salafsky and Sue Ujcic. With 22 amazing co-workers, we farm 50 acres of certified organic fruit, flowers, vegetables and herbs. We sell almost all the produce we grow through our 1200 household CSA program. We pair also with other local organic farms/business to sell their products through our CSA too. We are currently offering fruit, honey, yogurt, cheese, and OlyKraut!
How long have you been farming?
We started our CSA in the early nineties, we've been a CSA farm for 26 years.
Why did your team start farming?
We started farming because we cared about environmental issues, food, and community. Once we started we couldn't stop, farming is so magical. Working with the people, plants, and soil that make up the farm is deeply rewarding.
What, besides the cabbage we love, do you grow on the farm?
We grow over 150 different varieties on our farm, we always like to try new things. Some of the best things we grow are strawberries, heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn, specialty peppers, and watermelon.
Why is organic farming important to you?
We care about nutrition because it's what keeps us healthy. Good nutrition affects both our minds and bodies and we believe everyone should have access to nutrient rich food. Local organic food is not just an elitist fad but is the way humans beings have always eaten.
What is the greatest challenge as a regional farmer?
Prices for organic produce are not based on reality. Since big box stores like Target and Safeway began selling "local" organic produce several years ago the prices have plummeted further the ever. Wholesale prices on some vegetables are actually the same as when we started 26 years ago, while all other costs of doing business have steadily risen. Large corporate farms can still make a living wholesaling because they are more mechanized and they pay low wages. But it is more important than ever for small and medium sized farms to sell direct to their customers so that the farm receives 100% of the sale. If you want to support local agriculture and local farms, buy farm direct; at a farmer's market, farm stand or by joining a CSA.
What is a favorite farm meal?
We love vegetables, the more the better! Right now we're excited for the first strawberries and other tender vegetables of spring. When you haven't had something like strawberries in awhile, it's such a treat to eat them again come spring.
What is your favorite thing to eat with OlyKraut?
Everything tastes good with OlyKraut on it! We really like beef bourguignon topped with Smoke and Kale OlyKraut. It's also yummy on sandwiches and salads too.
What else should we know about you, your farm, and what you do?
Our main goal as a farm to grow the most nutrient-rich produce we can. To that end we soil test twice a year and amend with both micro and macro nutrients. We also practice minimal tillage, cover crop extensively and use other practices that help maintain our soil tilth. Focusing on the the health of our soil has many positive ramifications. We have less pest and disease problems because our plants are healthy, we have greater yields and, best of all, nutrient-rich produce tastes better because your taste buds recognize minerals in food as flavor.
If you could tell our fermented eating vegetable community one thing, what would it be?
Nutrient rich, fresh food tastes better and has a longer shelf life. If you buy farm direct you get food that's only a day or two old whereas if you buy produce at the store it can be anywhere from seven to ten days old. We recommend the use of sea minerals (in the form of SeaCrop) which provide trace minerals and would be advantageous to the fermentation process.