Farm Setting, Acreage, and What We Grow:
Our farm comprises nearly ten acres, scattered over several fields near the northeast corner of the Merry Lea property. Most of those ten acres are part of orchards and mixed perennial systems. Less than one acre is used for growing vegetables and herbs. Rather than growing in acreage, we are trying reduce waste and grow better quality in smaller areas. This is a tough goal, but proves to be worthwhile.
As a relatively young farm, Merry Lea Sustainable Farm is in the process of determining which crops and tree species are best suited for our soil types, our climate, and for local preferences. More traditional vegetables and herbs grown have included various salad greens, basil, beans (snap and dry), beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, cilantro, collard greens, cucumber, daikon radish, dill, eggplant, fennel, garlic, ground cherry, hyssop, kale, leeks, lovage, melons, mint, nasturtium, okra, onion, parsley, peppers, popcorn, potatoes, pumpkin, rutabaga, summer squash, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, tomato, tomatillo, turnip, winter squash, and zucchini. We grow mostly heirloom crop varieties and raise crops with organic practices though are not currently certified. Much of our produce is consumed by students or direct marketed in small quantities. We try our best to do some seed saving, and to raise seed types that reflect crops grown by native peoples of our region.
We are often experimenting with small plantings of more unusual crops, and some with small grains. This has included sorghum (sweet), heirloom spring barley, rice (Japanese variety), spring oats, jute, various flowers, and many species of cover crops. Our perennial plantings also include a wide variety of species, including apple, pear, cherry, plum, pawpaw, peach, persimmon, northern apricot, pecan, chestnut, serviceberry, blackberry, asparagus, raspberry, grape, and hardy kiwi.
The main infrastructure of our farm, including our offices, are located at Rieth Village, located off of CR 200 S (Bear Lake Rd.). Production fields are adjacent to woodlands, meadows and wetlands, which are filled with beneficial insects, bats, and songbirds, all of which we encourage in our agroecosystem.