How We Grow Things at Maize Valley
Organic, Conventional & Sustainable
Thank you for stopping by to read this. Most summer produce seasons we are attend ten farmers markets a week, from Canton to Cleveland and many places in between.
My father in law (Kay) who does most of the growing is a former chemistry and physics teacher at our local high school, he taught for 27 years and retired from that in the mid 70's. He knows chemistry. He has been farming since the early 1960's, and he knows farming. We try to use as few "non-natural" crop protection products as possible. If for nothing else they are expensive! But if a pest or problem is a threat to our crops we will take the necessary measures we feel are appropriate to protect the crop and bring that investment to market. Sometimes that is a hoe, sometimes it is a sprayer.
We used to be an agricultural supply business. That is, we sold crop protection products, fertilizers and soil amendments, bought, sold and stored grain and custom applied many of the products we sold. We were Certified Crop Advisors which means that we understand the modes of action, (how products work) and how they affected the plants, the pests, and the environment.
Today we only use Natural Food Grade fertilizers as our main fertility program and only supplement them when we see a plant is showing a deficiency. That is based upon economics as well as plant health and product quality. You see, not like many of the great folks that sell at farmers' markets this is ALL we do.
Our agricultural production pays all the bills, supports three families and a host of employees. We are "professional farmers" not "professional gardeners". If we have a bad year we lose the farm not some nice vacation cash. Not to mention a family’s heritage that dates back as the third settlers in the township and multiple generations making a living with the land. We adapt to the changing landscape and marketplace the best we see fit.
We do not feel Monsanto is evil, nor do we think they are great. They just are. They are what the marketplace (the public) asked for. The people have voted with their dollars and choices to demand the goods and services our mainstream food system provides today. Farmers markets are a great niche market for those of us who choose to have a closer relationship with their food and those of us who produce it for them. We appreciate these folks very much and all the great managers and other interested parties that help bring the markets to being.
My father and many other men and woman traveled the world in the 1940's and for the first time an entire generation witnessed how the rest of the world lived and mostly died. While my dad was in China with the Marine Corps he and many others like him saw starvation on a mass scale. These men and women came back from this and vowed that their sacrifices and those of their fallen brethren would not occur in our country. These people saw the world and many did not want to go "back to the farm" and the hard labor that came along with it. They wanted to build a society that was "better" than the generation before them. With that comes trade-offs and with all things extremes.
Today we live and have mostly forgotten the benefits we derive from this wonderful system of plenty they built for us. We just pick out the bad parts and hold them up as proof what we are doing is failing. With our bellies full, our cell phones charged, our 2nd and 3rd cars in the drive, our vacation plans ready, you name it.
We don't mention all the people that did not starve today, get food poisoning, work in the fields until their backs were broken, that got to live, create, think, play do fun stuff because they were not spending most of their day making sure they did not go hungry.
Yes there are extremes. We are an obese, lazy, inactive bunch somewhat because of this food system of plenty. But unless we are going to throw away the constitution and tell people what, how much and when they are going to eat this is what we got. Through farmers markets, CSA's, and other non-traditional vectors we can provide choices. It is up to the consumer to choose what they feel is best.
Organic production is not good, conventional production is not bad - they are different. They provide different things at different times of the year for different people. What is sustainable? Making choices that support us and allow us, the producers to live to fight another year. Just give me a shot at it that is all I ask.
Take care and hug a farmer today!