Ask Farmer Tim: What’s New At Freedom Farms This Spring?
Spring is here, and Tim King is excited to share what’s “growing on” at Freedom Farms—from fresh-picked asparagus to fields of heirloom berries, here’s a look at what’s happening right now, and what’s on its way!
What are you doing differently this year?
Tim King: We’re building more greenhouses which is something that we haven’t been able to do in the past. We’re putting in a lot more carrots and spinach, and we’re covering a lot of stuff with reemay which is just a floating row cover. It keeps the plants about 6 degrees warmer at night so it’ll protect them against the frost. We’re pretty much just planting more of the early crops.
What new varieties are you growing this year?
TK: I bought a few different earlier varieties of peppers and tomatoes. I also added a couple new varieties of lettuce that are baby lettuce so they’ll come to market sooner. They’re ready in 30 days instead of 50.We planted an acre and a half of asparagus which is new this year. We’re going to be planting more strawberries, heirloom varieties of strawberries, and about an acre of blueberries.
What’s the story on the berries? What’s the reason for expanding that operation?
TK: What we want to do is be self-sufficient so we want to grow enough of everything to supply ourselves. We don’t want to have to buy products to supplement our offerings when we don’t know exactly how they were grown. There’s an obvious demand for fruit more than vegetables; blueberries are definitely a favorite. We’ve been selling out of those. We want to eventually have enough blueberries so we can do a U-Pick at the farm.
How confident are you with growing berries?
TK: I’m confident, I think it’ll work. We did our research about what the ground has to be like and what practices to use. The best way to find out how to do something right is to talk to someone who is doing it right. That’s the best way to learn.
What are some challenges that you’ve already faced this season?
TK: The weather was the toughest part. We had a cold spring so it was hard for me to get to the field early to get things going but luckily we could still build greenhouses. You can still get stuff in the ground because the greenhouses keep it dry enough. It’s a controlled climate so I can control the heat and also the wetness. For the most part the spring hasn’t been bad, it’s been a little bit windy which is never good, it kind of beats the life out of plants but if you cover the plants with row covers that cut down on the wind burn and the wind abuse.
What’s special or unique about what we have to offer early on in the season?
TK: We’re trying to do everything naturally or organically. We don’t use herbicides and we weed everything by hand. Our heirloom varieties are better than any hybrid varieties out there. We’re trying to give people more of a selection by offering lots of varieties, and we think that our varieties and the way that we grow our produce is better than the rest.
Are you using any GMO seeds this year?
TK: No, we cut out all the GMO crops and all the attribute crops which are genetically altered to resist certain pests. Our practices are different than other people’s; they’re more intensive. We plant closer, we use organic fertilizers, we weed everything by hand. We stake and string a lot more vegetables, which keeps them cleaner.
What is your favorite early crop to eat?
TK: If I had to choose a favorite early crop it would be asparagus. It’s good fresh, picked right out of the field.
This article was originally published in the June 2013 issue of Freedom Farms Magazine.