EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a series of monthly articles following a farm family through the course of a year. This year, Rural Life Today is following the Sandy and Guy Ashmore family in Clinton County.
CLARKSVILLE — The sudden summer heat that sprung up in early May meant drip tape, weeds and planting for the Ashmore family on That Guy’s Family Farm.
The married couple, Sandy and Guy Ashmore, said they have 100 percent of all early crops planted and are about 70 percent finished overall. They will plant sweet potatoes and winter squash yet. This year they have expanded their eggplant, fennel and okra production.
Sandy and Guy farm about 30 different crops and around 130 different varieties on 8 to 10 acres, some including squash, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, beets, sugar snap peas, radishes, carrots, potatoes, onions and more. The ground was dry enough in May to plant; however, they’ve also had to put drip tape on many of their rows because it’s been so dry.
The extreme heat after the cold temperatures of April caused a few problems for the Ashmore’s. Guy said that they have experienced a high weed pressure earlier than usual. The extreme heat also put stress on their spinach and radish plants, some of which they lost. They were worried about the snap peas, but Guy said that they turned out to be some of the best snap peas they’ve seen.
Guy and Sandy Ashmore produce organic vegetables and herbs on about 17 plots on their main fields, each about an acre. They are organically certified and wholesale is about half of their business, with the other half going to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) pick up business, the farmer’s market and the honor system. They started selling at the Mason County Farmers Market in May and will continue every Saturday throughout the summer.
Apprentices have arrived
In early May, Rachel Metzler and Laura Kington arrived at That Guy’s Family Farm, where they will work as apprentices until October. Metzler and Kington knew one another and studied food systems and community development together at The Ohio State University.
“They’ve been a great help,” said Guy, adding that they came at a good time, when the ground was dry enough to plant. Both Metzler and Kington are from Columbus, but have different experiences on the farm.
Kington did not grow up on a farm, but has worked on various farms. Last year Kington worked at Sunny Meadows Flower Farm in Columbus. The year before that she worked at a farm in Iowa.
Kington finds agriculture can be a “powerful way to build community.” She also emphasized how thinking about how the world works in regard to agriculture links to many social and world issues, such as climate change.
Serving as an apprentice this summer will be the first time Kington has worked on a farm for the sole purpose of learning and understanding. Both apprentices will work alongside the Ashmore family, learning about the decision-making process, which Kington said is unique.
Metzler’s family runs Glenn Avenue Soap Company out of Columbus. She said she learned about the apprenticeship at That Guy’s Family Farm through OEFFA (Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association).
“I like working with my hands,” Metzler said, and explained how learning how to raise her own food is “invaluable experience.” She added that she has always thought about agriculture, the idea of feeding people and sustainability.
The Ashmores are trying a new way to put hay on the tomato beds this year. Instead of laying out rolls of hay, they are going to use a silage wagon to put chopped hay on the rows of tomatoes. The hay will hold moisture and suppress weeds.
One of their neighbors uses this mulching technique and used his hay chopper to chop their hay. According to Sandy, this will be less labor intensive compared to unrolling large bales of hay, which she said would take at least a couple of people to get the roll started. They have two rows of tomatoes, each 300 feet long.
Sandy said that the cold box store is on target for opening June 1. They added insulation, air conditioning, carpet and lights in May. The insulated cold box has been officially named That Guy’s Farm and Flower Store. The cold box store is a small building at the front their property that will operate as a self-serve honor system stand with the ability to put fresh cut flowers and perishable produce in a refrigerated environment.
Next month: That Girl’s Flowers.