Interview Melinda of Turner Farms
V: What is your main job?
F: My main job is growing vegetables. The main part is for our CSA, our community supported agriculture and the members that pay, that’s our main job here. Next to that it’s growing vegetables to sell at market both here and at Findlay Market.
V: What type of vegetables do you garden?
F: We grow almost as many types of vegetables as we can think of from arugala, lettuce, beets, winter squash, summer squash, eggplants, all kinds of green beans, purple beans. We don’t do dry beans. We do sweet corn, a little bit, winter squash-- probably about 30 different kinds of vegetables.
V: What season do you garden the most?
F: We garden the most in the summer. My spring planting time begins in March, whenever the soil is ready to work. And then our regular CSA runs through October 15. So that’s our biggest season.
V: What do you like most about gardening?
F: I like being outside and I like seeing the other things that are outside. I like seeing the insects, the birds, and the butterflies.
V: Thank you for spending your time with us.
N: If bugs come into your garden what do you do?
F: Well it depends on if they are good bug or a bad bug or some that maybe aren’t either one. I like the good bugs. I even plant flowers for the good bugs. Some bugs we put traps out to catch them, like the Japanese Beetles. For some we put row covers so they can’t get to the plants. We do use a few pesticides that we are allowed to use, one made out of pyrethrum, because it’s made from plants. And BT, bactherus theringenisis, because it’s a natural occurring bacterial disease. We use that to kill them. We sometimes use things like garlic spray to just keep the pests away.
N: What kind of tools do you use?
F: We use a lot of different tools. We use hand tools, like hoes and rakes. We also use walk behind rototillers. We have 3 rototillers in three different sizes, and we also use tractors and rototillers behind the tractors. We also use some horse drawn implements. They have used plows and different cultivators.
N: What’s your favorite part of working on the farm and what is your least favorite part?
F: Cleaning is my least favorite part. I like working with the other people, the sharers and the other people that come to the farm. I like to be able to challenge myself to always grow more vegetables.
N: Thanks for answering the questions.
A: Can you ever use pesticides in your garden?
F: Yes, we can use pesticides if they are made out of naturally occurring things. Pesticides that are made out of plants and not synthetic things. Pesticides that are made out of bacteria like the BT. What I have used so far this year is dypel which is the BT. I’ve used pageanice which is a broad spectrum insecticide made out of pyrethrum. I’ve used garlic spray that’s made out of garlic. We also sprayed parasitic nematodes. It’s a living organism. Parasitic nematodes are microscopic worms. They are worms but they are so small you can’t see them. We sprayed those on the leeks, because we were having trouble with onion maggots. The nematodes killed the onion maggots, so we have fewer onion maggots this year. That’s all I have used this year.
A: How long have you been working here?
F: I have been working here for 10 years.
A: What kind of education did you need for this job?
F: Well I grew up with my family, and they always grew a lot of vegetables. I helped on the farm. I went to Ohio State University and studied agriculture. I have a B.S. in agriculture. Actually, I studied floriculture, because I was planning on flowers more than vegetables.
A: What is typical for organic gardens?
F: What do you mean, what makes it organic? What makes it organic is that we can not use synthetic products. We can not use synthetic herbicides. In fact we pretty much don’t have any herbicides that we can use—anything that kills weeds. We can’t use synthetic pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.
A: What are some of the difficulties and how do you deal with them?
F: Probably the hardest thing for organic people to deal with are the weeds, controlling the weeds. So there’s a man in Pennsylvania that has come up with this thing that really works to control you weeds, but it takes twice as much space. The year before you have to plant cover crops and then after you till in the cover crop, then you keep it bare fallow for a period of time in the summer and then you put another cover crop on it. Then the next year you plant in it and you have far fewer weeds. So we are doing a little bit of that, and that really works. And then we also cultivate and hand weed. That’s a lot of work.
A: What is your favorite crop?
F: My favorite crop is a hard one. I like to raise potatoes. I like spinach.
A: What do you do when the weather is bad like today?
F: We’ve been cleaning and organizing things and planning how we can do things better next year.
A: Thank you for taking the time to do this.