As I made my way down the dirt path towards Warrup's farm in Redding, I could tell I was approaching a project that had been years in the making. Although the Hill family labels the farm as "small," this preserved land sits on 288 acres and includes fields, forests, and wetlands. Bill and Laura Hill have done an amazing job keeping the land that Bill's parents, Sam and Betty decided on preserving many years ago.
Bill started in this land in the mid 1970s, cultivating flowers, raising vegetables, and making maple syrup. The farm has grown to be so much more, with an amazing CSA program, certified organic flowers, vegetables that are grown sustainably and organically, and ways to celebrate the fall harvest, such as tractor rides and pumpkin picking. And of course, the maple syrup legacy goes on.
In order to ensure that the practices the farm is using are organic, they are certified by Stellar Certification Services. This certification also ensures that the farm is biodynamic, which is a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to food production and nutrition. Biodynamic farmers strive to create a diversified yet balanced farm ecosystem that emphasizes the health and fertility of a farm. The Warrups farm is a great example of a biodynamic farm; there is always something grown, sold, or ready to be harvested at the farm. Also, Warrups’ certification assures the consumer or customer that plant life has no additional herbicides or pesticides. Biodynamic farms use cultivated and fermented manure, minerals, and herbs to ensure the health of their products.
There are many health and environmental benefits to organic food and farming. Scientists have found that organic products, such as tomatoes and milk, actually have higher quantities of antioxidants and nutrients. This may be due to the fact that they are usually raised in nitrogen richer soils than non-organic products, and therefore have greater qualities and quantities of nutrition. Environmentally speaking, organic farming enhances soil structure, conserves water, ensures sustained biodiversity, and dramatically reduces external inputs by controlling pests and diseases naturally, with both traditional and modern methods, increasing the agricultural yield that a farm produces while also increasing disease resistance. And the most important thing to remember is that this is all done naturally.
All of the hard working hands at Warrups Farm in the center of Redding are making sure that the products you are receiving from their sustainable farm are made to be top quality yet still organic and good for your body and the Earth. The family prides themselves on maintaining this preserved land as something extraordinary, which helps the community all around. Supporting their business would help support the economy in our communities.
The main products for this upcoming season are mainly a variety of vegetables, including salad greens such as lettuce, other greens such as kale and Swiss chard, radishes, beets, green beans, and almost all herbs such as tarragon, basil, and parsley. The farm also houses a small peach orchard, and in the late summer, there is summer squash. Coming into the fall, Warrups Farm sells hay, pumpkins, maple syrup, and acorn and winter squash. Almost every vegetable that is needed in one's diet can be found at the farm.
Warrups has its own farm stand that is open to the public in the summer, but also sells to various small shops in the area such as Chamomile in Danbury. The farm also started a CSA, or community supported agriculture, program, where people from the community are welcome to participate in the growing of their produce and therefore receive a certain amount of product for a certain amount of weeks for a certain fee. The program helps the farm financially but also helps the community get involved with local farming.
By buying local, you are supporting the small businesses right here in our backyards, which helps keep our economy on its tracks and running smoothly. Another economic benefit to buying locally is the low transportation costs. On average, the food that we buy at the supermarket has traveled 15,000 miles before being sold and is also picked 4 to 7 days before being placed on the shelves. If it is possible for us as citizens to help decrease these transportation costs, why not. Also, large-scale agriculture has been scientifically proven to have lower health benefits than small, locally owned farms, where the farmers are the ones planting, picking, and selling. This provides for a great opportunity to connect with the person who is providing you the nutrients that are needed and also helps ensure that the products are top quality.