know where your (organic) food grows!
We hear so much these days about going green, buying organic and supporting local businesses. I tend to be a skeptic … Can you really do that? Or is it just the politically correct thing to say? As a dining critic, I love seeing notes on menus like “grown locally” or “organic” at restaurants such as Rue Dumaine in Centerville. But I recently heard about an organic farm right here in our own community. At the Bluebird Hills Farm in Springfield, you can buy a share, support a local farmer and enjoy truly organic food.
On a beautiful sunny Monday, I arrived at Bluebird Hills with aforementioned skepticism yet open to being convinced of the benefits of organic farming. I pulled into the long gravel drive and on my right was a field of alpacas. I could only hope there was more to this farm than animals! At the end of the winding road I discovered a lovely brick farmhouse and a cheery woman named Laurel Shouvlin. My opinion of the farm quickly changed thanks to Shouvlin, a former physician’s assistant who left her medical career to focus on her alpacas and return balance to the earth with her husband Tim, a former computer software programmer. This couple juggles running the organic farm, caring for the animals and raising four kids.
Bluebird Hills is Certified Organic annually by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA). This group stipulates that no genetically engineered seed can be planted and very few products are approved for use on certified farms. No “inorganic” (petroleum based) fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides may be applied. This farm rotates their fields, and when not in use, plants cover crops like rye that are then tilled under to help restore balance to the soil. Bluebird Hills also uses heirloom seeds – not hybrids. Hybrids are developed to ensure things like tougher skins to endure shipping, shelf life and color, while sacrificing flavor. Heirloom seeds can be saved from year to year and produce consistent results. Heirloom seeds give you results that are richer in flavor – you can taste the difference.
What is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)? This means, you can participate and enjoy the results. You purchase a share for the low cost of $475 (or $500 on a payment plan) and enjoy fresh produce from June through October. Better yet, once part of the CSA, your produce is delivered to a convenient location close to you. There are locations all over the Miami Valley from as far north as Tipp City to as far south as West Chester and many points in between. Imagine – fresh organic produce – locally grown and delivered for around $25 a week. It just feels right!
So, what is the difference between this and the “organic” foods at our large grocery stores? These goods are grown locally, not shipped in from across the country. Further, these goods can be on your table the day after harvest. When you ask yourself, “How can I truly support local farmers?” this is an inspired and creative answer. How much produce will you receive? In the early part of the season you can expect the equivalent of one-and-a-half paper bags, and at peak, the equivalent of two paper bags of fresh produce. There is also a weekly newsletter filled with recipes and what to expect on the next delivery. Also, at the beginning of the season Bluebird Hills includes herb plants in your delivery so you can grow your own fresh herbs to go along with your fresh organic produce.
At Bluebird Hills, some plantings occur weekly to ensure consistent results. The equipment used is small, not like the large machinery used on most farms today. Some of the equipment is purchased from Italy where they are used to farming small plots of land. The maintenance and restoration of this equipment is done on site by Tim.
It is always good to support our farmers’ markets but who is monitoring the produce? Ever wonder how there are fresh tomatoes in May and June? These are not locally grown. Ask the farmer if the produce they are selling is grown locally. Ask if you can come see the farm. Insist at your farmers’ market that someone is monitoring what is being sold. There are plans in place to have the outdoor vendors at the Second Street Market only selling locally grown produce this summer.
Don’t delay your decision to go green or blue, in this case, by supporting Bluebird Hills Farm. There are a limited number of shares that go fast – get in now while you can! Remember, the produce is conveniently delivered – no market needed! I hope you get the chance to meet the Shouvlins. They are deeply committed to organic farming. And if you’ve ever considered having an alpaca for a pet, they can help you with that as well.
Who wants to join me for a share of Bluebird Hills Farm? I can’t wait to get mine!
Bluebird Hills Farm is located at 3617 Derr Rd., Springfield. For more information, call (937) 390-6127 or (937) 206-3936 or e-mail BlueBirdHills@voyager.net.