Have Some Questions For Us?

“Can I feel comfortable that your vegetables are safe to eat?”

Because this is a family business, our children are out in the fields with us often. Lucas eats cherry tomatoes off the vine like they are m&m’s! For that matter, Elly (at 16 months old) has been known to eat a few dirt clods! Selfishly, food safety is a top-priority for us because of our children. It is important we provide safe food for our dinner table, but also, if we slack on food safety issues, that would put us out of business, then we’d be defeating the purpose of aiming towards building a self-sustaining family farm for our children to be raised on. We want and need our farm to raise and provide food that is safe for all parties to consume.

Here on our farm, we follow the principles of Good Agricultural Practices, which are basic guidelines that outline criteria to follow to ensure food safety. GAP tells us how we need to train our farmworkers on personal hygiene, the number of restrooms we are to provide and how often they are to be cleaned, periodic water-source testing, cleanliness of our packaging facility and routine sanitation of our tools, and a whole litany of protocols. Should you ever have a question on the measures we take to ensure you are getting a safe product from our farm, please ask. We can assure you that we do all we can for your family to minimize risks of contamination. We ask that you wash all food items prior to consumption.

Another component that may help your comfort level is that since we supply grocery stores and larger distributors with our produce, we must be compliant with their food safety standards.

“Is Courtney Farms organic? Do you use chemicals?”

We get these questions a lot and it’s often stirred because of a lot of misconceptions out there in the food-buying world – ugh!! We are very conservative in our chemical applications and take a more “reactive” approach on the items we raise intended for folks’ kitchen. Due to the events of Mother Nature and our sole income is dependent on our crops’ output, we do have to be reactive to make sure we are able to provide a safe-quality product. We can feed more families by producing more food when using our resources wisely. So if potato beetles attack our potatoes, we will research for the recommended/approved pesticides we can that will rid the beetles so that the leaves can still feed the potatoes growing beneath the soil. We are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, and United States Department of Agriculture. We plant flowers to attract beneficial insects to our fields, we scout our crops very often to try to notice a issue before it reaches the point of being highly invasive; we do a lot to ensure your crops have the best growing environment possible. When a plant is healthy, it will produce healthy food.

When we apply any type of chemical we observe and respect the label – by that, it has a PHI (pre-harvest interval) which tells us how many days must pass prior to harvesting – this time period ensures that there is not any damaging chemical residue in or on our vegetables. Shane and I encourage our children to eat right off the vine – it’s part of learning to appreciate the miracles of nature and to connect with the earth which is the provider of our food. Last year we got a huge infestation of flea beetles on our green beans—we had to treat them so we missed out on selling a lot of beans because of that PHI, but it’s not worth it. On the other hand, our eggplants got an infestation of spidermites which eat on the plant and they actually reduce the pigment of the fruit – they weren’t damaged, so we explained to everyone why their eggplants weren’t the bright purple they were at the beginning of harvest—it’s all about communication and the desire to understand. The more you can shorten the distance between the farm and table, a farmer has more room for insect and disease pressure – if green onions are looking great – no need for an insecticide – it’s that simple. It is our goal to produce high quality, safe food that you can be confident in to feed your family. When something tastes good, it’s a nice bonus to know it’s good for you. We encourage you to take a few minutes and wash your produce before enjoying.

I know that is long-winded, but I hope you can learn why we practice the way we do and what our practices mean to your family. We aim to be very transparent in our partnership, so if you have a question, or want to come take a look, let us know.

“What do I do about the food we get that needs refrigeration?”

Keep in mind this is Community Supported Agriculture, so we are leaning on each other some. For the food that requires refrigeration, we will provide that until we deliver your food. We recommend that if you have ordered items that require refrigeration (i.e. meats, cheeses, eggs), please plan accordingly. You may want to have a cooler at your work, make arrangements for a little freezer space, or schedule to pick-up close to our delivery point. Everyone has different arrangements and it is good to think about when placing your order.

None of the produce will require refrigeration. One of the characteristics of our vegetables is that we pick them soon before they leave our farm. Sometimes they may still have “field heat” in them. Thatʼs part of gardening, folks. When you get your items home, wash them and put them in the refrigerator if needed. After you wash your lettuce in cold water, put it in a bag with a damp paper towel and your lettuce will revert back to that nice crisp, fresh appearance.

Something I learned from taking a “field walk” with some farmers of an Amish community down in Casey County was that once produce is refrigerated, youʼve done it in….it must stay refrigerated. Produce will actually stay fresher if it waits to get to your refrigerator at home.

“I see “LLC” as part of your name. We want to support a small family farm.”

Since Shane and I were young, living our separate lives in separate parts of the state, we each shared a love….a love of farming. Life happened and our paths crossed. Over time, we began our family…and began farming, together. Now, with our children, Lucas and Elly, we have a family farm. In todayʼs time, in order to be a family farm, we have to make every decision as a family business. One of those decisions was to protect the viability of ourselves and the next generation by forming a limited liability company.

According to the USDA, ninety-nine percent of U.S. farms and ranches are owned by individuals, family corporations, or partnerships. For us, the LLC is protection of our family and our farm. Our small farm, located in Bagdad, serves as a niche for food production. With population expanding competing with agricultural land, energy and water resources, agriculturalists have to improve efficiencies and productivity becomes more crucial. We are blessed in America to have choices. Shane and I are blessed to participate in food production, both local and globally from our small family farm. We produce corn and soybeans to be harvested by combines, and we raise peas and carrots to be picked and bunched by hand…we hope you will come to better understand the demands and appreciate the choices Americaʼs farmers provide your family with. As parents of a young family, Shane and I are honored to be a farmers providing for your family, direct or indirectly.