Thursday, June 7, 2007

Organically grown

Rosie Koenig was raised in Freehold Township on a 45-acre family produce and poultry farm. Now she is an organic farmer on 17 acres in Florida, and is featured in The New Farm magazine:

... I'm often asked how a Jersey girl wound up farming organically in Florida. Like many farm children, my parents encouraged me to find an easier and more financially rewarding profession. My solution was to study agriculture. I attended Rutgers University's Cook College and majored in agricultural science. ...

It was while I was completing my Ph.D. in Florida that my husband and I decided to buy land and start farming part-time. I missed farming ...

I chose to farm organically for a number of reasons. The first came from memories of our family farm in New Jersey. In the late 1970s, our best farmers' market at the Jersey Shore folded because of a lack of growers. We had little choice but to sell more wholesale, primarily through an auction-style growers’ cooperative. Everyone had the same product and prices were low—sometimes you got less than the price of the box you packed your vegetables in. It made me sick to think of all of the sweat and care that had gone into those crops. I knew I didn't want to repeat that experience. The organic marketplace was growing and I knew I could offer a unique product at our local farmers' market.

The second reason was to avoid exposing my family, workers, neighbors and customers to pesticides. After working on large conventional farms in California and south Florida, where pesticide applications were frequent—often a couple of times a week—I decided there had to be a better way. I knew there were alternatives to the dominant, mono-crop style of American agriculture and that crop diversity was one of the keys to reducing risk in farming. I was convinced that organic farming was worth a try.

The third factor was my determination to prove that it could be done in Florida. After deciding to farm organically, I knocked on a lot of doors at the university to get advice. I was told that within three years I would return to conventional farming. It made me want to succeed just to prove them wrong. ...

2 comments:

Katie N said...

I went to school with Rosie and am so glad to see her happy doing what she loves!

Anonymous said...

Neat story