We base our choices of what to grow and how to grow it based on our key principles. We choose heirloom varieties over modern hybrids; we integrate with the community instead of isolate; we grow instead of sustain,; we use hand tools over heavy mechanization.
Choosing heirloom varieties over modern hybrids
It is first important to understand what an heirloom variety is. Just like your grandmother’s pearl necklace, heirloom varieties are those where seeds have been harvested by one generation and have been passed along to the next to continue growing. Over time, selecting the strongest and tastiest edibles yields varieties that are healthy, flavorful, and colorful. Unfortunately, our modern food culture cannot support these types of varieties on a large scale due to high demands on transportability, uniformity, and all-season availability. Modern hybrids have been developed in order to support this at the cost of flavor and nutrition. Sure you might be eating a tomato. But if you only knew what a real tomato tasted like.
Historic Foods is devoted to increasing the availability of all sorts of heirloom fruits and vegetables. Remember, tomatoes aren’t the only heirloom you can get.
Integrating with the community over isolation
All to often farmers sell product to distributors and never know where their products end up. Likewise, consumers rarely know who produced it. Knowing where your food comes from and how it was raised is important. It lets you know the principles on which your farmers run their business and their standards of quality. Would you hire a kitchen contractor without meeting them in person or seeing photos of their other work? Why wouldn’t you do the same with something you put in your body every day?
Growing over sustaining
This value is two fold. Firstly, you may often hear the terms “certified organic” or “sustainability raised” in health food circles. For us, these principles are not enough. Being certified organic is great if you are selling your products to people that do not know who you are or how you raise your food. It also comes with a cost that is passed along to the consumer. Also keep in mind that the certifying authority for organic products in the US is also the same one that allows feed lots. Additionally, “sustaining” simply means just barely breaking even. Taking out of the system equally to what you put in. But is that truly long term sustainable? Instead, think about a regenerative system where over time, you are able to take more out of the system while putting in less resources. This could mean less time, money, or raw materials. This is what we strive for and are constantly experimenting and studying ways to incorporate this into the farm.
Secondly, we do not want Historic Foods to plateau at a small portfolio of lovely produce. The food world is vast and produce is not the only area plagued by mass production, poor nutrition, and lack of uniqueness. We will always be searching for ways to expand our product lines.
People over mechanization
There is the unfortunate misconception that a mechanized farm is always more effective than one run with hand tools and hand harvesting. Mechanization means heavy machinery, which also means high overhead. We did not get into this business to pay someone to drive a specialized piece of machinery through our fields. Not to mention that the sensitivity of our products simply would not allow it. Harvesting at actual full ripeness cannot be done by a machine. Any idea how old long that glistening red store-bought tomato was on the vine? Days? Weeks? How much time did it not have gaining nutrients (and flavor) before it was prematurely picked, packed, and shipped across the state, country, or potentially internationally?
This isn’t to say that we want to move farming backwards and want to have an oxen plowing the field (1. We don’t plow. 2. I actually wouldn’t mind an oxen.). When appropriate, we do use appropriate technology, such as a precision seeder, salad greens harvester, or irrigation timers. These have minimal to no environmental impact but greatly improve the efficiency that the farm is able to work.