From Music Producer to Farmer
How Black Creek Organic Farm Started
I love featuring local people that care about health and wellness. I especially love people that enjoy back-breaking work in the sun to produce local, nutrient-dense foods for our community. I want few things more than for people to see the connection between their food and health. Levi and Kristin, owners of Black Creek Organic Farm, have worked the last two summers to contribute to the movement with their small produce farm outside of Defiance. I deeply appreciate their love for real food, care for their produce, and willingness to work darn hard to provide nourishment for Northwest Ohio. They have quite the journey that lead them to becoming farmers. Let me tell you their story...
In 2002, Levi and Kristin moved to New York for Levi's music production career. The environment in New York allowed them to get a taste of the foodie scene. Levi's music-producing wasn't providing enough income, so he started working at a farmer's market on the weekend. That started to plant seeds in him that would bring them to the farm today. Levi also experienced working in a vegan restaurant while Kristin was working in the produce department of a premiere health foods store.
They both started to get connected with local farmers and received encouragement to pursue their farming aspirations. They were encouraged to intern at a farm. But where? It was September. Apparently best place would be Kauai, since there were many farms there and the growing season was just getting started.
They went to Kauai without tons of planning. They interned at a farm where they stayed in tents and amenities were at a minimum. But you better bet they had the time of their lives on that little Hawaiian island! Levi soon became a supervisor of the farm after only a year of working there. They said the farm owner was impressed with their Midwestern work ethic. Of course. They ended up staying five years in Kauai, learning the ropes of planting and harvesting, and falling in love with the work of farming.
Black Creek Organic Farm officially started in 2014. When I looked at Kristin to ask why she started getting into all of this she simply and endearingly replied, "I've just always followed him". She loves seeing food heal and change people. She was over the moon about me being pregnant. She said, "You know, I love those stories. Our crops fed your baby."
This year they offered: carrots, beets, radishes, herbs, lettuce, cabbage broccoli, spinach, swiss chard, tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, garlic, potatoes, kohlrabi, green beans, peas, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, and onions
Next year they want to add sweet corn, hogs, bees and honey.
Q & A with Levi, the crop master
Q. What is the difference between conventional kale and your kale?
A. Pesticide and fungicide residues are ingested in conventional kale. It looks like kale but the nutritional profile is radically different.
Q. What about organic kale (from the store) and your kale?
A. Freshness is the biggest difference - the 24 hour window after something is picked is the only time you can get all the nutritional benefits of produce. More sensitive nutritive elements diminish over time and sometimes it takes two weeks for it to even get to the store. Kristin added that Black Creek has higher quality because they are able to devote more time and watch over each plant.
Q. Is this the hardest job you've had? What are some of the toughest aspects?
A. Yeah, but it's a labor of love. My schedule during harvest season is totally dictated by the weather. Sometimes we will be harvesting until 2 a.m. or have to rearrange our schedule if rain is coming. We often harvest until the wee hours on Friday night for the Toledo market and then we get up at 5 a.m. and grab a thermos of coffee to head to the market. We work 7 days a week in the summer.
Q. What do you want people to know about their food choices?
A. That there are better options out there. Ignore the advertising and read ingredient labels. Understand what those ingredients are. Everyone wants to say that organic is an elitist food, but if you look at all the work that goes into it and the long-term health gains, it is certainly worth the work of producing it and the expense of buying it.
Q. What do you love about farming?
Kristin: I love the harvesting and the markets because the interaction with the people that are buying and making dishes with their produce. I love educating and getting feedback from people.
Levi: Planting cover crops and building soil. That is essentially what is creating their livelihood - adding back to it, replenishing it. I love to play in the dirt, but also to know that you're making future crops that are much healthier and viable.
What they offer
Where do they operate and what is available from Black Creek Farm?
They operate in three different markets in NW Ohio, two of them offering a weekly Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Share. Their summer CSA is June into October (18 weeks). Their winter CSA next year will begin in October and last 8 weeks. The CSA is a great way to get a variety of their harvest each week, hence getting a variety of nutrition. It's like a surprise. When I received my crop share each week this summer, it contained all sorts of goodies from their weekly harvest. The list of harvested produced above tells you what the crop share contains.
You can get their crop share, a small up-front front investment, or you can go to their table at the farmer's markets each week to buy individual pieces of produce. Either way, they never fail to disappoint. You can find out about 2016 CSA options and get signed up by messaging them below or sending them an e-mail.
- Defiance Market (CSA available)
- Bryan Market (CSA available)
- All Things Food Co-Op in Bryan
- Toledo Market
See their Facebook
Email them`: firstname.lastname@example.org
I will follow up with this local producer gem next summer. Stay tuned.