Thanks, Casey Parks, for the awesome write up!
Sweet and Salty's Able Love special edition caramels were featured in this week's Mercury!
Able Farms, new to the market this season, is composed of Megan Denton, Jenny Herget, and Dan Cadmus, all of whom have different backgrounds as farmers. Dan is the co-owner of Linnton Feed and Seed and has been working in the agricultural world for the last several decades. Megan worked as a chef for many years and got into farming in order to get closer to the source of food. Jenny's background is in community work and healing and she currently works as a massage therapist, where she sees growing food as another way to nourish people. They farm in their lot in St Johns as well as on Sauvie Island, working with just under an acre of land. They raise a variety of vegetables and fruit and have ducks and chickens for eggs and meat.
When asked which principals guide their farming ethic, Able Farms said: "Our principles are based on permaculture. We are pretty bio-intensive, use companion plantings to help with pest control, and are completely chemical free. We believe whole-heartedly in the principles of organic farming and follow them strictly; however we do not currently have organic certification. As a new farm we do not have a lot of resources, and want to put our money and time directly into the crops rather than go through the intensive, rigorous certification process.
"This was a much debated decision for us, and we may decide to become certified at some point in the future. Ultimately, though, we realized that direct contact with our customers at the farmer's market and at several local restaurants meant that we could represent the food better than any word on a label could. When shopping at a grocery store where a customer can't talk to the people who grew their food, an organic label is the best clue as to how the food was grown. Even with that, though, as bigger companies realize the profits they can make from the organic label, organic certification is becoming less reliable. Through the venues in which our food is sold, we are able to tell our customers exactly what we do and don't use on our food.
"We try to bring a big community focus to our farm, too. We held a farm-to-table dinner at the beginning of the summer so that people could come eat our food directly on our farm, and we host several classes each season about different farming techniques. Megan just finished a humane chicken-slaughter class, and at the beginning of the season we did a small fruit-tree pruning class. We want Able Farms to have a good connection to the community so that those around us become inspired to grow their own food, too."
When asked about their farming methods, Able Farms said: "Compost is our best friend right now. Before beginning to grow any veggies on Sauvie Island we mixed compost in with all of the soil, and continue to fertilize with compost tea and Down to Earth organic fertilizers. All of our poultry live in mobile tractors, so they have room to move around and have access to fresh pasture daily. We use a feed called Scratch'n'Peck, which is made in Bellingham, WA. In addition to being local, Scratch'n'Peck is non-GMO, organic, and non-pelletized. Between the high-quality feed and access to fresh pasture, our egg yolks tend to be colored all the way from golden yellow to a rich deep orange.
Able Farms loves the St Johns Farmer's Market because they're able to bring fresh, healthy, sustainable food directly to their community. "It's great to see so many neighbors at the market. We're very proud to represent this awesome neighborhood." To learn more about Able Farms' farming methods, find out why they love St. Johns or buy their beautiful eggs and produce, please visit them at the St. Johns Farmers Market. You can find them each week on N Philadelphia Street between Baird Family Orchards and Valley Berry Farm.