Thursday, April 4, 2013

Northern Neck Turns to Produce

Barn at the Farm
Steve Turnage began delivering fresh products to Washington D.C. in 1986 and has not looked back since.  He wakes up at 2:30 in the morning on delivery days and is on the road by 3:30 am in order to get to D.C. restaurants in time for lunch service.  He started out growing mushrooms on logs cut from white oak but since has moved on to produce.

His Northern Neck Farm is situated behind his house on Kingsmill Road in Hague, Virginia and boasts almost 100 acres.  On it he produces fresh greens, onions, rosemary, and lettuce right now, but is always open to farming new items.  He enjoys developing working relationships with chefs where each party feeds off the other for ideas.  You can tell his heart is in it from the painstaking efforts he takes in producing good food.  Crops are planted and harvested by hand, which, when you are talking about over 5,000 individual onion bulbs, can get quite daunting.  Still, Steve prides himself on his ability to maintain quality in his products while deterrents such as deer and bad weather hinder his production.  Recently he planted a field of wildflowers to encourage bees to visit the area.  The noisy guests provide a vehicle for pollination and are a welcome sight to any farm.  Steve will continue to provide great produce to local D.C. restaurants for some time, but that doesn't necessarily mean he wants to get any bigger.  Steve reflected as we were leaving, "I like where we are right now.  We are at a place where if we got any bigger, I am not sure we could do what we do."  That's a thoughtful insight into the difference between buying from large producers and small farmers; it's not about how many plants you grow, but rather, how you grow them.  Videos: DeliveriesSpinach, and Produce
Waiting for Spring

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