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Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Assoc. set for tours
By DOUG GRAVES
Ohio Correspondent

SPRING VALLEY, Ohio — To look at Doug Seibert and Leslie Garcia one gets the feeling they’re perfect specimens when it comes to health. In fact, they are and right they should be. After all, they farm organically and live off the vegetables they produce on their southern Greene County farm.

Flowers, bedding plants and produce grown at their farm (which they call Peach Mountain Organics) keep the couple busy. Even more so since their products are in high demand from restaurants and local consumers.

“We’re almost entirely retail now,” Leslie said at her Richland Road farm.

The couple tends to 38 acres on two farms. Their land has been certified organic since 1992. His specialties are the vegetables grown in lush, organic soil. Leslie’s love is the cut flowers cultivated in several greenhouses. And their farm is one of 16 stops of the Summer Farm Tour Series in Ohio, which is sponsored by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Assoc. (OEFFA).

Two days each week the couple market to grocery stores and restaurants, with drives no farther than 20 miles. Two other days, time is spent at a local farmer’s market. The other three days of the week they can be found tending to the crops from sunrise to sundown.

“We work a lot of hours, seven days a week,” Doug said. “I once went nine months without a day off,” Leslie added.

Complaining? Not this pair. It’s a labor of love and they’ve found their niche among a market that demands their organic products. Vegetables comprise 50 percent of their business. Thirty percent is dedicated to bedding plants while 20 percent of their business comes from cut flowers.

“The benefits to organic farming is the freedom it brings and being able to be home all the time,” Leslie said.

Their farm (aptly called Peach Mountain Organics) will host guests on Sunday, Sept. 24 from 1-3 p.m. The couple will discuss profitable ways to grow, harvest and market Ohio garden products such as year-round greens, berries, early tomatoes, sprouts, mushrooms, asparagus, garlic, potatoes, cut flowers and specialty bouquets.

Guests might find it intriguing that Doug uses a blend of kelp, fish, yucca and molasses when transplanting lettuce.

“We want the plant to deal with natural things, not watery solutions of nitrogen and potassium,” Doug said.

Other stops on this annual tour include:

June 17 - Take a stroll at the historic family-owned Turner Farm at 7400 Given Road in Cincinnati (Ham-ilton County). In operation since 1795, the farm offers picturesque pastures, meadows and farm fields that produce certified organic produce and naturally raised livestock. Learn about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) partnerships that protects this farm from development.

June 24 - Rose Ridge Farm in Malvern (Carroll County) has been in existence since the 1800s and certified organic beef production is the highlight of this stop. Certified organic Hereford cattle reside on this 280-acre farm, with concentration of organic practices that encourage soil fertility and plant and animal health.

July 15 - Want to get started with vegetables, perennials and eggs? Then Meadow Rise Farm in Bellville (Richland County) is the stop for you. This five-acre farm will show you how to get started small scale, with concentration on potted perennials, cut flowers, free-range eggs and ways to get involved with local farm markets.

Aug. 2 - Organic milk production is the topic at the Gassar Family Farm in Sterling (Wayne County). This farm of 60 Holstein dairy cows also is the home to feed and organic grain. Discussed will be rotational grazing and pasture management, crop production, organic herd management and marketing.

Aug. 12 - Small scale organic poultry and eggs is the topic at 2 Silos Farm in Mt. Gilead (Morrow County). Starting with just 80 laying hens in 2003 this farm now boasts a flock of 500 hens of 20 different breeds. They anticipate producing more than 7,000 organic and chemical-free broilers this year. An introduction to bio-diesel fuel will be the topic at this farm as well.

Aug. 19 - Marketing and adding value to farm products will be discussed at the Athens Farmers’ Market in Athens (Athens County). Discussed will be the group’s history, successful marketing strategies, consumer and producer relations, product demand and market guidelines.

Aug. 24 - A field day involving organic vegetable research will be discussed at OARDC in Wooster (Wayne County). This topic offers some interesting scientific information that farmers may not already know. This program is in its eighth year and offers some eye-catching results from much research.

Aug. 24-25 - Ever wanted to learn how to farm with horses rather than a John Deere tractor? Then this workshop is your stop. Caleb Smith of Turner Farm in Butler County shows you the hands-on way to harness, hitch and drive workhorses. Act fast, as this workshop is limited to four people.

Aug. 27 - The Crown Point Ecology Center in Bath (Summit County) is the stop to see a 10-acre certified organic farm, which includes woodlands, meadows and a wetland-pond ecosystem. The mission of this center is fourfold: sustainability, justice, community and spirituality. This stop includes a passive-solar heated workshop, farm equipment, greenhouses, barn and fields.

Sept. 7 - Organic grain crop research is the topic at OSU/OARDC in Wooster (Wayne County) and visitors at this stop will view conventional and organic plots to compare different production methods.

Sept. 9 - Rush Creek Gardens in Piqua (Miami County) will enlighten visitors about Community Supported Agriculture and teach novices about growing and marketing organic foods. This stop is designed with the eater and cook in mind.

Oct. 7 - Windy Hill Apple Farm in Newark (Licking County) is home to a 700-tree apple orchard. Learn how to operate successfully with low input methods. The orchard is chemical-free and the owner will lecture on controlling insects and pruning techniques.

Oct. 8 - RainFresh Harvests in Plain City (Union County) is the stop to learn about herbs and renewable energy. Learn how solar and wind technologies are used to grow nutritious food yearround. The farm includes a renewable energy greenhouse, a passive solar greenhouse, aquaculture pond and several bio-intensive outdoor garden beds.

For further details about this tour visit OEFFA at www.oeffa.org or call 614-421-2022.

This farm news was published in the June 14, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

6/14/2006