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Pick Your Own: Farm Has Openings for Families E-mail
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Tuesday, 29 May 2007
Pick Your Own: Farm Has Openings for Families



The Daily Oklahoman

Feb. 21--EDMOND -- Sue Tarr used to take produce from her farm to the Edmond Farmers Market, then one of her customers asked if she gave tours of her farm. That gave her a new brainstorm idea.

"I thought a picking farm would be fun," she said.

In 2001, she developed a co-op at her farm on Memorial Road in southeast Edmond. That year, she invited seven families to join her. Now, Turtle Barn Farm has room for 15 families, and all but a few slots are taken.

People pay a fee at the beginning of the year -- $464 this year or less than $9 per week. Tarr and her business partner, Don Helberg, then do all the planting. Families come and pick all they'd like as produce ripens throughout the year.

Tarr said families often come to pick and end up staying for the afternoon, building a camp fire or having a picnic. The farm has plenty of things for children to do -- a tree house, a tetherball, room to run and play, and lots of dirt. Tarr often sends children on scavenger hunts, teaching them the value of taking care of the earth and such principles as conservation and recycling.

"We're trying to raise some farmers and kids who love the earth," she said.

Tarr and Helberg start the plants under grow lights in Tarr's Jacuzzi room, then move them to the greenhouse. Right now, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi and spinach are gaining strength in preparation for being moved outdoors. Outside, onions, parsnips and strawberries are under heavy mulch and in permaculture manure beds waiting for warmer weather before they're uncovered for spring.

Crops grow year-round. The spring crop was planted on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

"Seeds for peace," Tarr explained.

The last planting of the year is done by October at the latest, Tarr said.

A picking chart and numbered beds show families what plants are ready for picking.

Tarr and Helberg use only organic planting methods and materials.

The two practice biodynamic farming -- no deep tilling of the soil, in order to retain micro-organisms. They also use permaculture -- covering the soil with cardboard, then manure, which is eaten by earthworms that help till the soil.

They compost, but they encourage families to bring their own. Coffee grounds make great compost, Tarr said.

Liquid seaweed and fish emulsion feed the plants. Homeostatic soil organisms are used to turn inorganic minerals from the soil into organic minerals that can be used by the plants.

Helberg explained that the better the soil, the better the end product.

"We're taking supplements because our food isn't giving us any nutrients," he said of the diet the vast majority of Americans consume.

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