Skip to comments.Garlic Cured What Was Ailing Former City Slickers
Posted on 08/24/2013 3:16:23 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Ron Stidmon sells more than 20 varieties of garlic and grows about 40 on the Darlington Township farm he purchased with his wife, Rosemary, in 2003.
They left behind white-collar jobs and a condo in New York after re-evaluating their priorities.
Ron worked as an executive coach and consultant. Rosemary was a manager in the securities division of JPMorgan. The decision was prompted in part by the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Ron lost one of his best friends that day. In Cleveland for a business venture at the time, he had trouble getting in touch with Rosemary and had to rent a car to travel back. "It upset me quite a lot," he said.
The decision to go into farming had early beginnings. Ron's mother always had vegetable gardens while he was growing up to provide for him and his two brothers. He liked working the gardens then and continued to have some type of garden even when living in Hong Kong and New York City.
Focusing on garlic has allowed the Stidmons flexibility that most other crops would not. Once the crop is planted in October, there is very little that needs to be done until March. They also saw a marketplace with very few people selling varietal garlic. It's more expensive, but Ron compares the purchase to an investment. If some of the bulbs are planted, customers keep getting interest on their initial purchase. Garlic cures real health problems, too, Ron said.
"I can't think of a crop I'd rather grow for people than garlic," Ron said.
Stidmon hopes that his garlic farm can help to solve another problem: the loss of family farms to development. He'd like to see the business model of his 90-acre farm adapted and expanded to help aging farmers continue living on their land. At Enon Valley Garlic, the Stidmons have opened up housing on their land to two individuals and one family in exchange for help with labor on the farm, as well as a variety of other tasks relating to their business. Peggy Macey and her husband, Chris, purchased two acres of land from the Stidmons. They built a house on the farm after stopping by to help out on a regular basis. Peggy has been a friend of Stidmon since the first grade.
After the Maceys moved in, Steve Guthrie was next. Guthrie had been renting an apartment in Ellwood City from the Stidmons when they brought him in to help at the farm. He lives in a mobile home on the Stidmons' land.
Rosemary calls Guthrie "the backbone of this operation . he's the best worker anyone has ever had." Needing more help, Ron and Rosemary placed an ad on the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture website looking for a family to live in the farmhouse.
Pam Blanchard of Athens, Ga., responded. She was welcomed on until they found a family. She brought creativity to the mix, coming up with the logo and designing brochures and signs for the market.
The ad was still on the site when Matt Miller came across it. His wife, Mary Beth, thought it sounded too good to be true but after weeks of letters back and forth and visiting the farm, the Millers decided to leave their home in Trafford and move to the farm.
"It ended up being a good deal," Mary Beth said.
Matt and Mary Beth are vegetarians, and Matt brings a knowledge of wild edibles that are sometimes offered for sale at farmers markets. Pam has continued working on the farm, though she plans to move closer to her mother in Trenton, N.J. Residents are responsible for paying for their own utilities so most have full-time jobs outside the farm. Matt Miller and Pam Blanchard work at Whole Foods in Wexford, and Mary Beth runs a photography business.
The success of Enon Valley Garlic's small-scale communal farming business has encouraged Ron Stidmon to think bigger.
He believes bringing together farmers, developers and people who care about clean, wholesome food can be a viable alternative to losing family farms to development. In his model, farmers would continue to live on their land while developers would build high-rise and low-rise housing on the periphery of the land.
Units in those building would be sold to people who wanted to be closer to and more involved in the growing of chemical-free food. Monthly condo fees would support hiring of professional help to work the farm.
"Home on the Farm" is a concept he's continuing to finesse in hopes of finding financial support for its initial start. Stidmon hopes to find foundation support for the plan once he works out all the details.
"It's a model that will survive at least several generations. The model right now has completely failed and we're losing farms because no one has come up with a replacement."
I harvested about 175 bulbs this year. So easy to grow and store!
I’ve tried several times grow it and either squirrels dig out the bulbs or they sprout the green shoot and then rot away. These were in containers and tried different times of the year in Florida. Not sure why these are hard to grow as I can grow about anything else. I have garlic chives doing well but no garlic.
Easy is the word for it. You literally just shove the cloves into the dirt, pointy side up. And wait. The rest is automatic.
I thought I lost mine in what I’m calling the Great Amish Roofing Incident of 2013, but an old world Amish miracle must have occurred and all was well! Garlic likes the cool weather, so maybe do a little web search on varieties that tolerate the warmer weather. If I get a chance I’ll post some links for you, but my kids are at the height of their evening shennanagens right now!
“I can’t think of a crop I’d rather grow for people than garlic,” Ron said.
He should love driving through Gilmore then.
20 varieties?? Wow, I just go to the store and buy plain old “garlic.”
Made a great roasted shrimp dish Thursday night. Two pounds shrimp with mashed garlic (four cloves), EVOO, salt and pepper; bake at 500 F in a Spanish cazuela for five minutes. Garnish with Pepper Oil (EVOO infused with dried peppers de Arbol, 8 cloves garlic, thyme, salt and pepper), garlic chips (fry up 8 cloves of thinly sliced garlic in very hot EVOO), and thyme. My son and his friends devoured it.
Kitchen still has the garlic aroma...maybe it’ll be permanent!
Holy shit! I know Pam Blanchard!!! Wow... never in a million years did I think I’d read about someone I actually know.
As for the squirrels, dispatch them with an air rifle or poison. The air rifle is more satisfying, but the poison is usually more effective.
I've got five hardneck varieties myself:
Have you ever tried growing horseradish? I am curious because I tried to grow it here in FL but maybe the soil around here is too sandy. I live near Tampa. What are your experiences?
I need to try this. My new town near LA was a farming area until the 50’s and fruit trees and plants in this yard — and in this whole county — grow so well, including onions not far away. Ready to plant garlic!
I grow me some horseradish here in central Illinois. Once it starts it’s hard to get rid of so plant it outside the normal garden grounds. The first year the roots were still pencil-thin. Then again, we had very little rain that year. By the second year you should get some. I just broke it in half and stuck the unused portion back in the dirt mound and it comes up next season in its own. Grind it outside unless you want your family to hate you. Best with fried taters & onions.
I havent tried but curious also. I cut off the top of a Daikon radish - the large white radish, and have it in water to see if it will grow roots, if nothing else to grow the greens to cook or juice with.
thanks for that link. maybe I’ll have better luck starting in fall and with the right variety for the south.
Keep us posted.. I have it as well, only on a smaller scale.. Homegrown is so much tastier..
I just ping once a week, but this is an excellent article. Maybe you could remember to link it next Friday at the beginning of next week’s thread?
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