Hey Y'all! You have heard we are growing fresh produce this year, and I spent time recently asking Chris, who is our lead man on this new endeavor, to tell us all more about it! Read to learn more about this exciting new offering at your local Nursery!
Above photo: On this morning, Chris was harvesting tomatoes to deliver to a local restaurant.
Rebekah: Hi Chris! Our customers are raving about our fresh produce we're now offering. Tell me, what is the vision for Living Well?
Chris: The goal for Living Well Farms is to grow vegetables and develop rhythms of growing that can be recreated anywhere. Riverbend Nurseries has wanted to get into vegetable production. Steve came up with the name "Living Well Farms" for a vegetable production platform some years ago. Riverbend Nurseries has given Living Well Farms the space to operate and in return Living Well Farms is producing produce to sell at the retail center.
Rebekah: Can you explain a little about the process involved in making your produce as organic as possible?
Chris: Since Living Well Farms is not certified organic, we can never go by that label. But, as the grower I try my best to only use sprays that are considered organic. Its also important to use the safe sprays as directed to have as little impact on the beneficial insects. In the end I want to have a product that I would encourage my toddler to eat without worrying.
Rebekah: That's awesome, Chris. We are growing a lot, too! Approximately how many varieties of tomatoes and peppers are we currently growing with Living Well?
Chris: Right now we are growing about 10 different varieties of tomatoes and about 20 varieties of peppers. The peppers range from sweet bell peppers all the way to extremely hot.
Rebekah: Will fresh produce grown at Riverbend be available at the Garden Center the rest of the Summer? What can customers expect to be available?
Chris: Produce should be available all through the summer. Tomatoes are available now. Peppers will be available shortly.
Rebekah: That's awesome; I love fresh tomatoes! So tell us this, if a homeowner is thinking about gardening, what is one tip you could share with a beginner gardener who has never grown their own vegetables before?
Chris: I think a great tip to beginning gardeners is to ease in to it. When you are planning and planting your spring/summer garden it still feels great outside. When it's time to harvest it is going to be hot and time consuming. If plants are ignored due to lack of time or commitment, produce will rot and bring in pests and create a real mess. Take it easy. Do it well.
Rebekah: What tip/s could you share with a homeowner who is interested in organically growing their own food?
Chris: I'm definitely no expert in organic farming but if a homeowner is wanting to grow their veggies organically, be prepared to work a little extra. More attention must be shown to the soil/plants/insects. Get a soil sample, and make adjustments if needed before you plant. Spend time with the plants everyday. Keep an eye on insect pressure. The sooner you can catch inconsistencies and make adjustments accordingly the better. I think this applies to any type of growing. It's just what you use to adjust that separates organic and conventional.
Above photo: our tomato & herb growing greenhouse; below: our fresh peppers growing.
Thank you so much, Chris, for showing us around Riverbend's newest project, Living Well Farms!
Homeowners, fresh produce is available now at our Garden Center- stop by, pick up the freshest produce around, and support your local Nursery!