Editor’s Note: Last fall, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of our Farm to Fork program, Bon Appétit gave away $50,000 in grants to our local farmers, fishermen, and artisans around the country to help them grow their business. The 10 “Fork to Farm” grant recipients were selected from 25 finalists by our guests and teams at all our locations, with more than 26,000 people casting votes! (Read all about the program and the winners here.) We have been posting updates on their progress.
Garden Treasures Organic Farm in Arlington, WA, was Bon Appétit’s staff pick for the Pacific Northwest grant. Mark and Patricia Lovejoy grow Certified Organic produce that they sell in their farm store and through their summer CSA program, and distributed to wholesale customers including Seattle-area Bon Appétit chefs at SODO Kitchen, Seattle University, and elsewhere. They were seeking funding to erect 10 large greenhouses that they had already acquired from retiring farmers in Oregon, which would extend their harvest season.
Mark reports that they used the grant money to buy up greenhouse posts for six of the larger greenhouses and get them shipped to the farm. Then they waited out winter, and by spring were able to fully construct and put plastic on two of the bigger houses and use them for the spring season. “They have proven invaluable for a space to let the plant starts ‘harden off’ and await the fertile soils of the large field plantings,” he wrote in an email. “I must say, we produced some of the best transplants in our career this year and having the extra space to let the plants adjust to less heated environments limits the plants’ transplant shock into the large open fields.”
They also got a volunteer party together and had many CSA members come out and help build up and complete four other 20-by-170-foot greenhouses. The plan is to slowly move into these greenhouses for an indoor strawberry crop, and extra space to plant up some late-season crops to extend the season into the fall.
“The extra space of having all these greenhouses has impacted the farm immensely,” says Mark. “We were no longer tripping over ourselves looking for space for all the hot-weather crops that need greenhouses to grow right, like tomatoes and cucumbers, and peppers. This leaves us more space to really go nuts with ‘out of season’ type local food and use the greenhouses for other fun stuff like zucchini — which we shipped our first harvest to SODO Kitchen on May 26. Yup, that’s right, zucchini in May — can you believe it?!”