Producers of the Ozarks Plateau

By Nancy Smith, secretary, Farm to Family Naturally

The Ozarks plateau is an isolated region populated by hard-working, independent people who are full of creative ideas for marketing their farm products, but little ability to get them to urban areas where they can be sold. That’s why Farm to Family Naturally works hard to aggregate and distribute farm products, and targets areas like the Ozarks and the Missouri Bootheel.

Throughout the winter, Randy Wood and I have been meeting with a diverse group of farmers to help them form a cooperative. By February, the farmers had a coop and a name: Producers of the Ozarks Plateau. Since then, individual members of the coop have been busy planning their crops, purchasing their seeds, preparing their ground and planting seeds and sets.

In early April, I had the pleasure of visiting two of the farms involved in the coop. My first stop was Suncrest Farms, owned by Jeff and Tammy Johnston. Jeff is the president of the new coop, and Tammy has been integral in its development. Tammy has a long career of working with plants. She worked at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (not far from their home) and at a local greenhouse and nursery. As a lifelong grower, I was very impressed by her cultural practices. The new greenhouse that Jeff and Tammy recently erected is the cleanest I have ever seen, and Tammy uses absolutely no synthetic chemicals on her plants. She uses a foliar feed made of kelp and fish, and her plants are so healthy that she has not had any pest problems yet. If any develop, she plans to use a soap and essential oil concoction to treat them.

Tammy’s early crops are plants (organically grown and just beautiful) and microgreens. We have had her microgreens at Sappington Farmers Market for a few weeks now. They are packaged in compostable containers and are raised using organic and sustainable methods. Tammy raises an interesting assortment, including basil microgreens, for a healthy burst of incredible taste.
Jeff has prepared his fields by growing cover crops, which have been turned under to enrich the soil. He has already planted acres of potatoes in beautiful dirt and is preparing to plant green beans, squash and tomatoes. Watch for his great, chemical-free, sustainably grown produce in our store as the season progresses.

Watching these farmers grow in their ability to market their beautiful crops is one of the things that makes life worthwhile for the members of Farm to Family Naturally. Happy Spring!
Sappington Farmers Market is located at 8400 Watson Road between Elm and Laclede Station Road.

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