The Back Story

When we first started farming in 1988 we cultivated the dream of creating a farm that could support both of us (and our future family) without any need for off farm income. The fact that we chose to work the land organically/sustainably was simply a part of the values with which we were both raised, but we had our work cut out for us to become a viable operation. Luckily our market seemed ready made as we are located in the Berkshires, home to many fine restaurants, and we were well received in our first sales attempts. But to earn our living we needed to increase our production capabilities and quickly focused on mechanization – we wanted to be in control of the whole picture and not have to rely on hired labor while we ourselves were still learning the ropes. We tried to work smart, not just hard, so we purchased equipment that supported efficient systems of production for the #1 crops in demand, clearly (then and now), ‘greens!’ – big greens, baby greens – mesclun greens, braising greens, mustard greens, chard, spinach, kale, etc.; anything that’s likely to suffer the rigors of a long shipment. As a local grower we got everyone’s attention where freshness was concerned! So every year we mechanized where we could, from seeders to cultivators, from transplanters to a giant commercial greens washer, and before too long we were getting a lot done fast! …which of course left us with all this extra time to grow everything else, like tons of tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, beets, carrots, fennel, green beans (7 acres of them!....yes, we have a mechanical harvester) eggplants, turnips, winter squash, culinary herbs, etc., etc, after all, we wanted to eat everything, so we had to grow it. However, quality of life crept into the decision of just how much we could sanely do and so we’ve prioritized; the crops we grow most efficiently (in terms of time and labor cost) get sold in great quantity to all our customers, whereas those crops that take the most time to do, we reserve for the farmers' markets and our CSA where we can get a better price.

We are continually tweaking the lengthy list of what we grow, but this year it went something like this:

 

VEGETABLES

ArugulaOnions, Sweet

BeetsOnions, White

Beets, ChioggiaPeas, English Shelling

Bok ChoyPeas, Sugarsnap

Braising GreensPeppers, Colored

CarrotsPeppers, Hot

Chard, RainbowScallions, Purple

Chinese CabbageScallions, White

CucumbersSpinach

EggplantSquash, Summer

FennelSquash, Winter

Green BeansTatsoi

KaleTomatillo

Kohlrabi, Purple & WhiteTomatoes, Cherry

LeeksTomatoes, Heirloom

Lettuce (18 Varieties)Tomatoes, Plum

MesclunTurnips, Baby White

Mustard GreensZucchini

Onions, Red-

HERBS

Basil, LimeOregano, Greek

Basil, PurpleParsley

Basil, SweetParsley, Italian

Basil, ThaiRosemary

CilantroSavory, Summer

DillTarragon, French

Margoram, SweetThyme, French

Peppermint, TrueThyme, Lemon


FLOWERS: 

Christa loves growing cut flowers in the field and in the greenhouse which we market through our on site design studio BridleWoodBlooms, for weddings & special events as well as our farmers’ markets, by the stem and in bouquets. 


BEDDING PLANTS:

In the year 2000 we started growing bedding plants in earnest to try and better utilize our greenhouse space (then, 30x48) in the early months (Feb. through June) and even out the bell curve in our sales season. We had of course previously always grown our own vegetable and cut flower starts for our own use on the farm, and at first simply grew a lot more of them in pack sizes to offer to our neighboring nurseries and other likely accounts. We were met with resounding interest. Our plants were desirable because they are certified organic and with the growing consciousness for the environment and food source, nurseries were happy to carry a line of them. We soon erected a 2nd greenhouse (30x96) and expanded our availability to include over 500 types of plants, from vegetables and herbs to cutting flowers and low growing border plants, to a full line of ornamentals used primarily in container gardens – a growing trend everywhere! We also grow a succession of colorful hanging baskets for Mothers’ Day and beyond (to fill the overhead space is the greenhouses). The 12" baskets accommodate a large quantity of organic compost for the plants to grow in and make an impressive, colorful display.

Current list of bedding plants: [email growing@markristofarm.com for more information]