On Tuesday April 17, Teresa (Springboro Produce Manager), Michelle (Oakwood Produce Manager), Dennis (Produce Director) and I made a trip to visit Green Field Farms new facility in Wooster, Ohio. Green Field Farms is a Co-op of certified organic Amish growers & producers. They grow organic fruits and vegetables and produce organic eggs, cheeses, maple syrup, & goat’s milk. All of their co-op members use a horse & buggy as transportation & the growers use horses & plows to till their fields. These are some very hard working people.
We got on the road at 7:45am for our 3 hour trip to Wooster. We met Aden Yoder (Director of Operations) & Larry Yoder (Sales Rep) at the new facility. Aden gave us a brief history of the co-op. Aden told us that in the past, 95% of all Amish lived or worked on a farm. It is now down to 15%. After many discussions, it was decided to try stopping and hopefully reverse this trend. In 2005 the co-op was formed. Aden said that they decided to pursue organic certification for two primary reasons. First, it is in their heritage to farm organically & second, if they grew & produced products conventionally with out the aid of machinery, that it would be difficult for them to compete with the big factory farms.
Aden & Larry then took us on a whirl-wind tour of three of their member farms. Our first stop was Raymond Yoder’s family farm. What a site! Low rolling green hills spotted with patches of brown, tilled soil. If you look closely at those brown patches you want to pinch yourself. It’s the 21st century and you see men plowing their fields with horses.
By my surroundings I may have thought I was in the 19th century. After the lunch Mary Yoder graciously served us, I strongly considered staying. What a spread! We had meatloaf, local chicken, local canned corn, mashed potatoes w/brown butter, homemade rolls, plus dessert (a choice of at least four kinds of pie).
After a lunch like that Aden wisely thought we would need some fresh air. Our next stop was the family farm of David Raber. Here we took a horse-drawn wagon tour. While their farming methods may seem to be 19th century, their thinking is definitely 21st. One of David’s jobs in addition to farming is interpreting soil analysis results of fellow farmers fields and recommending a specific organic soil amendment program.
Our last farm was that of Atlee Gingerich & family (no relation to Newt). Atlee’s family raises chickens that produce organic eggs for the co-op. Thirty-five hundred chickens is a lot of chickens! After the Gingerich family farm we headed back to the co-op’s new shipping facility. Aden showed us their new offices, the warehouse, & soil amendment buildings. The warehouse has three coolers, dry storage, & two truck docks. After touring the new facilities we hit the road……I can’t say I remember the whole trip back.
Being able to bring you such quality products from these hard working people make me proud to work for Dorothy Lane.
Ron Williams, Washington Square Produce Manager