The Wegmans Organic Farm, now open to the public for tours
In our current issue we profiled the good work going on at the Wegmans Organic Farm in Canandaigua. Recently the folks at Wegmans invited the media to come check out the latest achievements at the farm. One of the exciting items they revealed that day was that they’ll open up the farm to the public for tours as well. Michele Blackley, editor of Edible Buffalo was there and contributed this piece to our blog. We hope you make a visit yourself some day!
Love Your Veggies
By Michele Blackley, Editor Edible Buffalo
Photos provided by Edible Buffalo
On a 3 ½-acre farm in Canandaigua, NY is a field that provides fresh local produce from field to grocery bag (reusable that is). The Wegmans Organic Farm has partnered with local growers to extend the New York growing season and expand its property in its fourth year.
With advice from year-round organic growing advocate Eliot Coleman, Wegmans Organic Farm has experimented successfully with hoop houses and portable greenhouses that enable farmers to stretch the usual growing season so seeds can be planted earlier and they can continue to harvest later.
“Our goal is to have fresh tomatoes from Memorial Day until the end of October,” Farm Manager Jamie Robinson said.
Presently, the team on-hand is working with local grower Doug Mason, who operates a seventh generation farm near Rochester, NY. Mason is one of their New York State organic suppliers. Plans are underway to allow more local growers to visit the farm so they can see the season-extending techniques that work. Naturally, a longer season means a larger harvest and more revenue for them.
“We want to help them be successful with ‘local’ organic farming,” Robinson said. In turn, they can supply Wegmans customers with the vegetables customers demand.
Crop selection is a key consideration on the farm and Wegmans has a lineup of crops that handle the challenging growing season, including popular heirloom grape and cherry tomatoes. Beans, chard, beet tops, spinach and more have already been harvested.
None of this would be possible without healthy soil so the farm team focuses on composting and cover crops (rye, spelt and clover) to replenish soil nutrients between harvests. The plants and clover will be worked into the ground to produce a rich soil.
At a recent media day Wegmans CEO and owner of Wegmans Organic Farm, Danny Wegman, emphasized the teams’ ongoing learning and how they look forward to sharing what they learn with their farm partners, working to make organic farming a viable choice for more and more growers.
“We tried going pesticide free in the stores and we plan to do that again,” he said. “We had a learning curve, we’ve expanded and we will keep growing.”
Currently, Wegmans Organic Farm supplies the Pittsford and Canandaigua stores with its produce. Wegmans hopes to expand that reach when the farm is larger and transportation with refrigerated trucks becomes more accessible.
The Wegmans Organic Farm is open to the public for tours. For more information and a schedule, please visit Wegmans Organic Farm online here. Read more about the farm in our current issue, available in these locations.