Walking the Midori Farm
“A farm is a process, where everything is related, everything happening at once. It is a circle of life; and there is no logical place to begin a perfect circle.” —Ben Logan, The Land Remembers
Walking the farm, I reached a place of understanding. I saw how everything was connected and that farming is a relationship—to land, to calendars, to weather, to nature’s fury, her secrets and blessings. It is a dance of season, sunshine, rainfall, time, and chance. Marko Colby and Hanako Myers, owners of Midori Farm, expertly choreograph their diverse and specialized system of crops. Their knowledge of plants, pests, disease, and soil help to balance their risks and rewards. Marko manages the organic vegetables; Hanako runs the plant starts and sauerkraut business. Midori crafts a line of traditionally fermented sauerkraut and kimchi (six varieties year round and one seasonal featured) using farm grown vegetables. Check out their website for serving tips and a quick soup recipe at http://midori-farm.com/products.html.
When the Food Co-op Produce Team recently visited the farm, it was a glorious sunny day, but Marko reminded us of this spring’s wet weather, the toll on the crops, and the challenges they face. Midori has had a long relationship with the Co-op. When they first began their farm operation in 2008 on leased land and prepared to sell their first crop to the Co-op, our local produce buyer asked, “What is your farm name?” Their beloved cat, Midori, sauntered by and the name stuck.
Since those early days, Marko and Hanako have purchased their own land, a level undeveloped expanse of fertile river valley in Quilcene. While they worked to build infrastructure, they kept farming their leased lands, but in 2014, they began to work their 30-acre, partly forested farmland, utilizing about eight acres of it for crops. Currently, they lease another eight acres nearby to help with crop rotation and succession. This is especially important for the Brassicas, in order to produce healthy cabbages for their sauerkraut. They grow a big crop to start kraut production in July and continue through the season with up to 18-20,000 pounds of storage cabbages for winter production! The first batch of kraut was being made off-site the day we visited. Local regulations have always made it difficult, if not impossible, for farmers to produce value-added products on their land, so these stalwart farmers have a plan to purchase their own commercial kitchen off-site one day. They also have designs on a site for a commercial-sized composting operation.
The top crops that Midori grows for the Co-op are an assortment of vegetables, plant starts, and the kraut. Midori also sells to three farmers markets, the Chimacum Corner Store, and directly to a few restaurants and caterers, plus they run a CSA and maintain their own farm stand. On the farm we saw two greenhouses with 12,000 heads of garlic laid out to cure, a drying process for flavor and longevity; a greenhouse with tomato and basil; and another with mini English cucumbers. The Co-op supports local farmers by offering select short-term loans. Midori purchased another greenhouse with the funds, and the win-win factor is that the greenhouse will allow them to sell some early season crops back to the Co-op.
At the farm we saw a beautiful old 1950 Aliss-G tractor outfitted with a modern battery to run on electricity. No exhaust fumes, nice and quiet—brilliant! It is also belly mounted with a finger weeder, a system of rotating, fingerlike stems that churn those first, tiny weeds. Another Kubota tractor is outfitted with a basket weeder—three rows of baskets to dislodge weeds between the rows. The crops must be planted with the configuration measured out just so to allow the tractor to hover over the rows. Marko said, with a twinkle in his eye, “If you can see the weeds, it’s already too late.” This blend of old and new technology is not just fascinating and efficient, it’s smart. As experienced Northwest growers, Marko and Hanako wrote and illustrated Vegetable by Vegetable, a guide on how to grow over 60 herbs and vegetables in our area, with lovely illustrations by Hanako. Download an excerpt on winter gardening from their website at http://midori-farm.com/vbv.html.
Some of the specialty crops Midori grows are Japanese Eggplant, Radicchio (Castlfranco, Trevios, and Rosalba), Cipollini Onion, Burdock Root, Mini Sweet Pepper, Shishito Pepper, Mini English Cucumber, Cylinder Beet, and the favorite, Purplette, a beautiful fresh green onion. The Co-op also buys basil, several winter squash varieties, fresh shell beans, rainbow carrots, chicory, escarole, Italian sweet peppers, Jimmy Nardello peppers, daikon radish, shallots, and Roma tomatoes. They are experimenting with slicing cucumber, sweet corn, berries, and a new lettuce well suited for salad mix.
The Co-op Produce Team spoke of shoppers who are eager to buy a particular vegetable year round. On the farm, though, you learn that if you are hankering for a shallot in the spring, what you really need to eat is a fresh spring onion. It is fresh, local, and available, and what your body should eat. Having the chance to visit the farm and then pass on this kind of wisdom is truly valuable. As produce stockers, we are now a link, a connection from the farm to the shelves and to our customers. Be sure to check out the Co-op’s Local Produce Calendar, available in the store and posted on the website, to see the entire list of Midori products found at the Co-op. The extensive list can help with choosing fresh, local, in-season produce.
Midori Farm is a certified organic farm and a certified organic producer. It is truly a top notch operation with a high aesthetic and unwavering appreciation for high quality, set in a gorgeous spot with mountains all around. We are very lucky to have these dedicated and passionate farmers growing food for our community