Elmwood Stock Farm – a true champion of the organic movement. Last week I paid a long overdue visit to this amazing farm. At the Louismill Anchorage Farmers’ Market we visit all our farmers to ensure that the farming practices are up to the organic standards to which we commit.
I arrived on their first CSA delivery day – 450 Community Supported Agriculture boxes a week – that’s over 100 boxes of different organic vegetables that are picked, washed, packaged and delivered four days a week. Then they head to markets on the weekends! With around an hour drive to Anchorage, we were so excited when they decided to join our market last year. With a bountiful harvest brought to market every week, we purchased amazing produce to share with our families. We were excited when they decided to join us again this year.
This 6th generation family farm highlights the dedication of its’ owners Mac and Ann. Ann grew up on this farm and her brother still farms alongside her. As you pull off the highway, the Elmwood Stock Farm sign heralds a pastoral countryside with the sheep and lambs grazing in the background. On my drive to the produce barn, I passed by free range chickens and turkeys, lots of cattle and long stretches of produce. I was able to take a few moments to chat with Ann about the logistics of getting all the right products in all the right baskets to all the right stores for the CSA pick up and then Mac took me on a tour of their farm.
First, we walked through the hoop houses, where they had just finished harvesting some of the cool weather produce. They had recently been planted with spring and summer crops and there was one green house that was full of strawberries and one full of tomatoes. By keeping a cover over them, they are able to keep the tomatoes dry, so that rot is not a problem. In organic farming, every decision on how you raise produce must be considered, so that harmful pesticides are not required. Most times this takes a bit more time, energy and expense to bring you a better quality and healthier product. As we drove through the fields of vegetables, Mac explained that this farm is on a 8 year crop rotation. This means that they will raise different vegetables on the land the first three years, then the land under goes soil building for the next five years, by allowing the cattle and chickens to roam. This means that no outside fertilizer is brought onto the farm.
The stock is protected by Great Pyrenees, who roam to ward off coyotes. Bees are brought onto the farm, so that the crops have excellent pollination. Mac seems to be an encyclopedia of knowledge, as he tells me that a squash only forms if the flower is pollinated and each apple seed in an apple is the result of how many times bees pollinated that flower. He also tells me that the apples are larger for higher pollinated flowers. With over 40 acres of vegetables to maintain, the bees are an important part of this ecosystem. He also explains how the rows of vegetables must be kept a certain distance apart, so that a macgyvered tractor can run through the rows. The weeds in between the individual plants must be hand weeded.
As we continued our drive, Mac explained that they raise around 400 free range layers and 4000 meat chickens each year. The turkeys I saw on my drive in were a result of heritage wild turkey eggs that had hatched late in the season and were not old enough for slaughter last Thanksgiving. They wintered the birds and now collect the eggs that are laid from them to hatch for your Thanksgiving table this year! The farm is home to over 25 ewes with the baby lambs frolicking in the fields, as well as countless Black Angus beef cattle. The cattle are pasture raised and are never fed corn. Because of the amazing pasture and the attention to how these cattle are raised, the meat is choice beef with lots of marbling.
Because all their Organic Certification is in place, I visited the farm so that I could better get to know our friends from Elmwood. When I originally thought of Elmwood Stock Farm, I figured by the name, it was all stock. I think what the name might mean – is stock up on your organic vegetables, products and meat products because this is one vendor at the Louismill Anchorage Market that you must be sure to visit.
For more information on Elmwood Stock Farm visit their web page: http://elmwoodstockfarm.com