January marked the beginning of our new "Farm of the Month" series on the Tend Blog, where we highlight the amazing work and delicious produce and food  that small organic farms are producing. February's farm is Field to Fork Farm in Palisade, Colorado. Check back each month for new features. To be considered for our series, please email [email protected].

Farm Name: Field to Fork Farm
Owner/Manager Name: Scott & Jessica Washkowiak
Location: Palisade, CO
Website: https://fieldtofork-farm.com/
Number of Employees: four-five 
Acreage: 20 acres, 10 in production, four as orchard
Specialties of Your Farm: Lettuce, Hot house tomatoes, Cucumbers, Cherries, Peaches, Plums, Apples, Pears, Artichoke, Carrots, French Radish, Chinese Radish

How did you get into farming?
Scott grew up around big agriculture in Illinois and began working on farms at a young age. He loved farming and went to School for Horticulture at Colorado State University. At Colorado State he lived on a Organic farm with his college cohorts and they sold produce at the Fort Collins farmers market and the local Co-op. The money they made from the produce went to the house and property so they could study and all live on the farm. Jessica met Scott in Breckenridge, Colorado a few years later as they were both avid Snowboarders. We both have a passion for boardsports and spent the next three years following waves in the Los Cabos Region of Baja California. Time was moving faster and they wanted to pursue career opportunities and moved to San Diego in 2008. This was a challenging time in our economy and jobs were few and far between. They both found odd jobs working at Organic farms and Scott had found his true calling. They both became very involved with the local food movement that was happening in San Diego and knew they wanted to farm for a living. We decided San Diego was a little out of reach and we missed Colorado. Jessica grew up in Mesa County, Colorado and they loved the small farming community of Palisade. The opportunity presented itself to move to Palisade and farm at Organic CSA farm and we took it.

We farmed for one year at a local farm and the next spring the farm closed its doors. We were looking for jobs and decided to start looking for a plot of land to lease and see what happened. We ended up farming a little over a quarter acre our first year and offered a 30-member CSA as well as attending a farmers market and building relationships with local chefs. The next year, I think we scaled up to half an acre and the third year to one+ acres. At this time, we knew we were in this for the long haul and purchased a seven-acre farm. At our CSA peak, we served 150 families and we were maxed and had very little product for any other markets. We wanted to slow down the variety of crops for the CSA and streamline our products. We now offer a small 50 member CSA we also work with grocery stores and wholesalers.

The land we purchased was very tiered and we have been regenerating this farm for four years. We also took over a lease of our neighbors that was a six acre GMO corn field for many years. It is now a field growing organic cover crops. We also lease a 11 acre field that neighbors us we just certified that land organic as well. Nine of those acres is in Alfalfa and the other three acres we rotate winter squash. We are very focused on our one and a half acre market garden that has 10,000 square feet of high tunnels and hoop houses and the four acre fruit orchard. We are excited to work with our neighbors on regenerating and growing food with them as well as continuing the growth of Organic Agriculture in animal feed and cover crops.

What challenges have you encountered?
Well I kind of answered this above, we have had so many challenges and have restructured our farming style a few times. The one thing we always come back to and what drives us is our mission of making healthy nutrient dense food available to as many people as we can in our community.

When we purchased our farm it came with two nice tractors. We tried to put them into our farm production but they were just to big or it took too much time to wait on a block to open up for the tractor to work a specific area. We sold a tractor and purchased some diversified market farming tools and the farm is more productive and happy!

What are some important things you’ve learned since you started at your farm?
1) Food is very valuable. Consumers try to lessen the value of food all the time but it is the one thing everyone does at least one time a day. Food is the one thing we all have in common despite political opinions and religious beliefs; 2) Without water we would not have food, without soil we would not have food and the healthier the soil the healthier the food; 3) Many people don't understand the value of healthy food or how it is produced, this educational piece of small farming is hard to get across.

What is the most challenging aspect given the location of your farm?
We have very heavy clay soil, and we are in a very windy weedy valley. If you have ever seen a old western movie and tumbleweeds are rolling in the wind that is our valley. We have a terrible tumble weed (kosha) problem. As much as you fight it it never goes away.

What do you love about your community that makes it a special place to farm?
We are all hard workers. As we all listen and support each other if we can. Everyone keeps to themselves but we all come together when its important.

Name something you would love to grow that you haven't tried or been able to grow yet?
Ummmm, Aspergrass.

Where do you see your farm 10 years from now?
I hope to see our production peaking with 10 years of profitable years behind us. Happy employees, Happy customers and beginning to think about passing the farm to the next farming generation to keep it going. In 10 years I will be 46 and Scott will be 53. We know we don't want to farm into our 60's. It just starts to get physically challenging and we don't want to let it go down hill and we know it will take a few years to sell the farm.

What are a few of your favorite farming pro tips?
Plant a seed every day! Tend to it and see what happens.

Who are your greatest farming influencers?
Each other... and of course Elliot Coleman, Frank Morton, Chris Blanchard, JM Fortier, Connor Krickmore.

How has Tend helped your business?
We are so excited for the crop planning tools as well as the Task calendar.


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