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A bountiful harvest
Hobby turns into small business.
Peyton Ellas is a sustainable farmer.
“It’s more work than you think. I always had it in the back of my mind that it would be fun to be a small farmer as a compliment to native plants,” said Ellas.
Some of her products will be available at the Grow, Cook, Eat: Springville event 6- 8 p.m. Saturday at The Center in Springville.
She is also a certified Master Gardener and business owner of Auntie’s Home Grown Farm and Quercus Landscape Design. She sells her produce at the Farmer’s Market in Springville and first started selling golden chard to Family Farm Fresh in bags and then expanded.
“It’s the easiest and how I got started. I used to not eat greens at all and it convinced me and other people to eat more greens,” said Ellas, who specializes in growing heirloom vegetables.
The Farm, which was started in 2008 and has three plots, Emma’s, Dad's place and Edward’s, totals half an acre.
It specializes in heirloom tomatoes.
“Heirloom tomatoes have less resistance to common tomato diseases so crop rotation is very important. Most diseases are soil born, so I don’t want to grow tomatoes in the same ground over and over again,” added Ellas.
Out of 52 weeks a year, 50 are dedicated to growing.
As a sustainable farmer she follows all organic rules, but is not legally certified as organic.
She uses a potting mix that is Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) certified and her fertilizer, which is also OMRI approved, is soy based which means that 95 percent is not synthetic. She also uses horse manure in her plots and makes her own compost tea for her farm.
Her biggest challenge is weeds.
“I’m trying like the dickens to keep Bermuda grass out of Emma’s,” explained Ellas.
Year round she grows and sells a number of greens including golden chard, bull’s blood beet and silverado chard. In the summer, she grows and sells a variety of produce including; beans, squash, soybeans and basil.
In the fall, winter and spring she sells a cornucopia of vegetables including; cauliflower, fava beans and carrots.
She sets her prices by comparative shopping.
“I go to grocery stores in Porterville, see prices, visit Whole Foods and Farmer Markets. I look around and see what local markets are doing,” explained Ellas.
At the Grow Cook Eat event, visitors can sample some of her produce. It will offer cooking demonstrations, recipe swaps and nutritional discussions. An RSVP is not required but is requested.
The Center is located at 35621 Highway 190 Springville in the historic Elster building.
For more information call The Center at 539-2341 or 313-6076.
For more information about the farm visit http://www.auntieshomegrownfarm.wordpress.com.