The Lake Champlain Islands Agriculture Network hosted a spring gathering and farm tour at Darby Farm in late April. Ron Hermann and Heather Darby own and operate this organic vegetable farm in Alburgh, and gave us a great tour of their greenhouse, fields, and barn. They were starting many varieties of peppers and tomatoes in the greenhouse, along with other vegetables and herbs. They will be selling tomato plants at their farmstand later in the spring.
We walked through the fields, where Ron and Heather are getting ready for the upcoming growing season. They are experimenting with cover crops and no-till planting, and showed us a plot of oats, peas, and tillage radish that was planted in the fall. This cover crop mix helps fix nitrogen in the soil and aerates the soil, all while reducing nutrient loss by keeping the soil covered through the winter. We looked at the hoop houses that Ron and Heather move every year to new soil, and use to grow heat loving crops like peppers and tomatoes. We also looked at some of the equipment they use, from a planter that also irrigates, to machine that helps put drip irrigation tape down while laying black plastic on raised beds. It was great to see the different projects that they are trying out, we learned a lot during our walk.
Heather also works for UVM extension as an agronomist. It is clear that her research skills and innovative ideas paired with Ron's daily work in the fields and commitment to growing high quality produce make them a great farming team. They sell their vegetables and honey from their bees at their seasonal farm stand, located right on the farm, as well as at the Champlain Islands Farmers' Market. You can visit their farmstand daily between May and October, 10 am to 7 pm- they are located at 54 North Main Street in Alburgh.
Thanks for the great tour Ron, Heather, and Flint!