Farm to Table focuses on farms that provide produce through local farmer’s markets or to the general public by hosting their own day to sell. Many local farmers have seasonal programs that give you a set price for the whole season for a specified amount of produce. Please note that you usually commit to purchase for so many weeks and pay in advance.
October 2013 Up To Grow Good Farms
I took the scenic drive to Cottonport Louisiana in early autumn to visit Paul and Nicole Lyle of Up To Grow Good Farms. Up To Grow Good is an organic farm that incorporates the technique of companion gardening. Companion planting is a from of polyculture where multiple crops are grown in the same space. This is a technique employed successfully for thousands of years to control pests, encourage pollination, and increase crop production naturally.
Paul and Nicole took over his grandparents farm in October of 2012. It had been, and a portion still is, farmed as a soybean farm. When Paul and Nicole, along with their girls, India and Evangeline, took over they converted 16 acres from soybean farm to organic farm.
“It’s been quite an experience,” Paul says, “We’ve learned a lot this first year about what to plant with what for best results.” And what they’ve learned is quite impressive. Paul built his own irrigation system to catch and hold rain water for dry spells and how to employ lasagna gardening on a large scale. Lasagna gardening is layered gardening when layers for a variety of purposes is used. A layer for weed control, moisture retention, fertilization, and so on. The irrigation system is gravely fed and also catches the rain water off the roof of the farmhouse.
They managed to grow quite a wide variety of crops in their first year: broccoli, eggplant, leaks, cauliflower, peppers, okra, pumpkins, kale, greens, garlic, beets, arugula, tomatoes, watermelon, and they just planted fruit trees. They’ve also grown an assortment of herbs: basil, cilantro, rosemary, and lavender—just to name a few.
You can find Paul and Nicole at several of our area’s farmers markets, usually with a wonderful assortment of heirloom vegetables, fruits, and herbs. And if you want to know anything about what you’ll be eating, just ask. The most impressive thing about Paul and Nicole is that they know exactly what they’ve grown and some great ways to prepare it. They can tell you how it will taste, how long it will stay good in the fridge—if you can resist eating it right away—and how long it will be good frozen.
Nicole and the girls are vegan and Paul isn’t far behind, as he simply stated, “I eat what they eat and we eat what we grow.” And while the life of a farmer isn’t all sunshine and bumper crops, this family seems to have discovered the secret to a long and happy life—do what you love.