Spring is in the air at the Wayward Seed Farm
Belstar Super Scorzonera, Rose Finn Apple Fingerlings, and Kolibri Kohlrabi. If these words mean nothing to you, then perhaps you need to spend a little more time chatting with Adam and Jamie at Wayward Seed Farm in Marysville. These produce superstars are gearing up for the summer season and bringing all sorts of locally-grown exotic vegetable varieties to a farmers market near you. We hit up Jamie for a Q&A session to see what sort of preperatory work is being done for this season, and what we can expect to find when visiting them this summer.
Q) Wayward Seed is a relatively new farm. Can you tell us a bit about why you got started with it?
A) Sure! The Wayward Seed Farm was started in the late spring of 2006 as a farm-to-restaurant project on one acre in Sandusky County. We grew over 100 different varietals of food in an attempt to find the best products for chefs. We soon saw an empty space in the marketplace, and a real need for a more diverse range of vegetables and fruits in Central Ohio. Then came the North Market, Clintonville, and Worthington farmers markets. Growing Wayward Seed fed both our passion for heirloom varieties and our customer’s passion for vegetables they’d neither seen nor found before.
Q) With the weather getting warmer, many shoppers are already starting to look forward to some of those summer farmers markets that you mention… but what is going on with the farm right now in early May?
A) There is a lot of work happening on the farm. And not much sleep! Seeds are started on a continuous basis to ensure stable production during the market season. Fields are now being prepared for tillage and planting. Our farming season really begins in early February, which surprises a lot of our customers.
Q) Your website provides a list of some of the types of foods you grow. Do you have any personal favorites?
A) We grow so many great things! Two favorites really come to mind for me. First, are the Rat-Tail Radish pods. They are an immature seed pod of an Asian radish that look like green beans but taste like a mild radish. They have a purple and green mottled color and are delicious raw, steamed or pickled. They are available from mid July until about the frost.
The other star is our carrots. We grow many different types including Dragon, Parmex, and White Satin. People at markets really seek them out and they sell fast. We’ve made a lot of friends through our carrots alone! Sometimes we sell out of Dragon, a spicy purple carrot, almost immediately after a market starts. Carrots may seem simple, but these are beautiful, unusual colors and the taste is unlike any carrot you get at the store. And people know what to do with them in the kitchen.
Q) Can you tell us a bit about your CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program and how people can take part in it?
A) Our CSA program has become the anchor of our farming operation. Members pay a fee up front before the growing season to receive a “share” of the farm’s bounty. Most of our members receive a box of fresh produce for 25 weeks out of the year, beginning in early June. The farm gets the benefit of having income early in the growing season to operate and build infrastructure and members enjoy the constant flow of new vegetables throughout the year. Everybody wins.
We try to grow the staples that people are familiar with but also offer our rare and hard to find varieties like heirloom lettuces and root vegetables-we’ve become known for those. Our CSA also has really brought us closer to the community we service, and that’s the best benefit. It does bring people together under the umbrella of local food, and that’s why we’re in this business.
Q) There are loads of farmers markets all over Columbus. How many does Wayward Seed participate in?
A) We participate in three farmers markets in the Columbus area: The North Market, Clintonville, and Worthington. All of the “Big Three” markets are great and they each have their own distinct personalities. Worthington is just a massive marketplace with a nice mix of producers in an ideal setting, Clintonville has such great community support and is always bustling, and North Market showcases some of the best farmers throughout Central Ohio. We have made a lot of friends at all of the markets and their administrators have been really supportive of CSAs. We’re lucky to be in such a supportive community.
Q) Any final thoughts on the future of Wayward Seed or the future of local farming in general?
A) The future looks incredibly bright for Central Ohio farmers and artisans. Every year CSAs take another step further into the mainstream nomenclature, while still being an independent, personal alternative to industrialized agriculture. And as for Wayward Seed, we’ve got big things planned. But I can’t tell you, because your head might explode. Just stay tuned.
For more information, check out WaywardSeed.com.