Green Field FarmsBy: Ron Williams | Produce Manager, Washington Square
On: June 11, 2012
On 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 and producers. They grow organic fruits and vegetables, and produce organic eggs, cheeses, maple syrup, and goat’s milk. All of their co-op members use a horse and buggy as transportation, and the growers use horses and plows to till their fields. These are some very hard-working people.
We got on the road at 7:45 a.m. for our three-hour trip to Wooster. We met Aden Yoder (Director of Operations) and Larry Yoder (Sales Rep) at the new facility. Aden gave us a brief history of the co-op, which was founded in 2005. In the past, 95% of all Amish lived or worked on a farm and now it is down to 15%. After many discussions, it was decided to try stopping and hope-fully reversing this trend. 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 and produced products conventionally without the aid of machinery, it would be difficult for them to compete with the big factory farms.
Aden and 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 with 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 and family who raise chickens that produce organic eggs for the co-op. Thirty-five hundred 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, and soil amendment buildings. The warehouse has three coolers, dry storage, and 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 makes me proud to work for DLM.