Meet Erica and Randy Gregerson, owners of Gregerson Family Farm. Erica and Randy are in the middle of their second season of farming a one acre, carefully planned vegetable farm. When they purchased the property three years ago, Erica and Randy had planned to buy some horses to occupy the pastureland, as had been done with previous owners. However, after giving more thought to what they wanted for themselves and their two young children, they decided to transform the pasture into a large garden. They were motived to grow healthy, real food not only to feed their family but also to raise their children to value and appreciate fresh produce and the work that goes into running a farm.
What do you sell here at Gregerson Family Farm?
Farm fresh eggs and vegetables. We have about 30 different vegetable crops.
Since you have been growing your vegetables, have you noticed any trends in the food scene of what people are looking for?
Some of our customers have spent most of their lives eating conventionally grown food. By this we mean food that is grown in depleted soil and is not farmed right, so in turn it does not taste as it should. When customers try our produce they learn to understand how fresh vegetables should taste. For example, people will buy our carrots and comment that these are the best tasting carrots they have ever had. So many of the vegetables that are grown commercially are bred for uniformity or disease resistance or color, and in turn they have lost a lot of their taste and flavor and texture. We see parents and grandparents stopping by to purchase vegetables as snacks for their kids in an effort to get them to eat healthier, and to teach their children what vegetables really look like. We had no idea of how removed so many people are from the basic things about what vegetables look like and what they should taste like.
We find that whatever we sample at our stand and get people to try, they will buy it and tell their friends and they will come to buy it too. Sometimes the biggest challenge is to get people to try items that are outside of their comfort zone. It is good to expand your taste buds and horizons. We always say to people; “You don’t have to like everything that we grow, but don’t say you don’t like it until you have tried it”. If you grow good food it is easy to sell. Last year turnips and beets were a huge seller for us. We have a lot of customers who are into juicing so they buy vegetables for that.
What has been the best part of running your farm thus far?
When we first started, we knew we were passionate about food and teaching people about good food and how it is grown, and exposing our kids to it. What we found out is that there are so many people who want to learn, and they will ask great questions. Running this farm is a really wonderful way to get to know people in our community. We didn’t know that we would fall in love with that part of the business. We miss our customers during the winter.
Do you sell your products at the farmer’s market?
No, we sell everything here. We converted our shed into a shop to sell our produce. We advertise on Facebook, we have a website http://www.gregersonfamilyfarm.com/ and we are on a very busy road so the visibility helps a lot.
How do you treat your vegetables for insects or pests?
So far, we have not had those problems, except the one thing we did have last year were cabbage moths. Our last planting of cabbage was probably 90% lost. Since then, we found out that you can cover your cabbage with a really thin fabric cover that keeps the moths off. We will not use any synthetic products to treat our vegetables; only organic. Another thing we have learned is that if plants do not have enough nutrients or the right nutrients, they are more susceptible to insects. So we try to focus on providing the best nutrients for our vegetables. We use an organic compost, and we use organic pelleted chicken manure. We purchased property that has been a pasture for the past 10-15 years, so we inherited really rich soil. Our focus now is on maintaining the richness of the soil rather than depleting it.
Three words that best describe your farm?
Real, sustainable, organic.
Where to you see your farm five years from now?
We want to be able to work together on the farm and may explore the idea of expanding and acquiring additional property in the future. Also, we would like to incorporate working with children, especially pre-school classes where kids and come out and see our chickens, feed them some treats, and collect eggs. We would like to provide hands on learning opportunities for children. We need to cement further in our minds what we want to do, but education is hugely important to us so we want to go in that direction.
Produce from Gregerson Family Farm can be purchased at their roadside stand on their farm, located at 7288 North 4th Street in Dalton Gardens, ID.
Interview by Juliana Anderson.