The key in understanding what is happening on Wegmans experimental organic farm is the word “experimental.” Their objective is to find varieties of produce and berries which adapt well to the temperatures here in the Finger Lakes and then armed with that knowledge develop Finger Lakes organic suppliers for their chain of stores. I am indeed grateful for the opportunity to have visited Wegmans organic farm, but the views which are expressed here are my opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Wegman family.
Having spent the first eighteen years of my life on the Bupp family farm out in Ohio, I admit that I was a bit skeptical when I saw the Wegman’s barn at the organic farm. That’s no more “barn” than my house is a chicken coop! And indeed we found out from Roger our guide that the “barn” was originally built as a winter boat storage facility.
Up the hill stands the apiary. Now my father understood the value of having bees around and he kept four hives of bees on the Bupp family farm to help pollinate the crops. But Danny’s apiary looks a bit like Fort Knox! Roger explained that the high fence was necessary to keep the bears out of the hives – a problem that we didn’t have to face in Ohio!
Further up the hill I spotted the essential ingredient for an organic farm – a pile of organic material! And indeed today’s definition of an organic farm requires organic material which has been composed so the material reaches a temperature of 165 degrees in order that all harmful bacteria and seeds are killed.
In one of the “hoop houses,” we were shown carrots, Swiss chard, and spinach which were to be a family harvest in time for Christmas dinner. The development of the experimental organic farm is being overseen by a couple from New Hampshire who has the necessary experience in this area. As we started down the hill, I looked at the beautiful view of one of the Finger Lakes – Canandaigua Lake. Those organic vegetables will not only taste good for Christmas dinner, but they will have had the benefit of being raised with a view!
James R. Bupp