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Faces of Local: Gretchen Farrell of Open Ridge Farm

ASAP likes to share the stories of people who help us fulfill our mission. This month, we talk with Gretchen Farrell of Open Ridge Farm. They are one of the farms who will be participating in the 2018 Farm Tour

Q: How and why did you get into farming?
A: I found myself in the cloud forest of Ecuador planting beans in 2001. In that moment, it was the most real thing I had ever done in my life — putting seeds in the ground that would grow into the food we would eat was fulfilling in a way I hadn’t ever felt before. From there I began taking courses and volunteering, from Ecuador to California to Costa Rica, and what I learned was that sustainable agriculture was also a solution to so many of the problems we face as beings who share this planet. Those problems were very real to me, and very urgent, and caring for the earth was solution-based, which feels good to an optimist like myself.

Q: What are you farming at Open Ridge Farm?
A: We have less than an acre in annual vegetables, as well as perennials such as asparagus, berries, bush cherries, apples, grapes, and a young orchard.

Q: This is your first year on the Farm Tour. What can visitors to your farm expect on the tour?
A: We have intensively planted vegetable gardens, aiming to be no till, including a good amount of habanero and jalapeno peppers we use to make our Pica Rica hot sauce. We built an on-site Farm Kitchen where we process the hot sauce, where we will have samples for visitors to taste. We have a new passive solar propagation house wrapped in flexible polycarbonate, and a young orchard with fruit and nut varieties labeled.

Q: Why are you participating in the tour? What do you hope to gain for your farm business?
A: We live in such a beautiful place, and we feel fortunate to be able to share this little slice of heaven for those who don’t get it everyday. We make incredible hot sauces, utilizing our own peppers, organic lemon juice, and no artificial preservatives or xantham gum. People are always grateful to find our sauce, so it’s a great opportunity to let people sample it. Also, we just truly enjoy meeting our customers face to face – it makes all our efforts worthwhile.