“Family owned and community operated, our farm has been growing certified organic, rare vegetable varieties of all kinds since 1992,” says Greg Boulos, who has owned and farmed Blackberry Meadows with his wife Jennifer Montgomery since 2007, “Our biggest program is our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). For Market District to participate in such a program is a rare thing.”
According to Greg and Jen, CSAs were started as a way for farmers to help offset their upfront operational costs at the beginning of the season. Participants pay in May to receive produce all summer long. “It is a real endorsement of the farmer and the farm, that people are — that the Waterworks Market District is — willing to share the risk,” explains Greg. “There are so many unknowns, like the weather, of course. A rainy or cold season, or insects can have a huge impact on your crops. When you buy a CSA, you are trusting the farmer to do his or her best. That’s saying a lot.”
Jen & Greg’s CSA program is also different from many in that they do not deliver to pickup points, but rather, have their customers come to the farm to get produce. This way, they can meet them face-to-face, answer questions and sometimes, even have a picnic.
“We really believe in people reconnecting with their food and their growers. We want to have a relationship with those who are eating our produce, to build community,” says Greg.
Greg and Jen also run a unique Garden Share Program, where participants don’t get produce, but they get the starter plants for their own gardens. “We do all the germination and get the seedlings sprouted. When it comes time to plant, we provide the starters to our gardeners. They probably get more produce in the end than our CSA participants, while learning about gardening, reconnecting with the earth and their food source. It is really catching on.”
For their crops, Greg and Jen are committed to growing exceptionally nutrient-rich foods full of flavor and color. To this end, they select seeds very carefully, looking for interesting, rare varieties that are the most brilliant (often, the deeper the color, the more nutritious.) “From unique summer squash and heirloom tomatoes to deep greens like kale and Swiss chard, we are always planting the richest we can find. And that means those in our Garden Share Program are also getting the best.”
Finally, Greg and Jen make a point of supporting the growing community. They work with gardens in Natrona & Tarentum, helping them with things like irrigation and doing outreach/donations to food programs. In turn, the community supports their farm. “People just come to our door all summer long, asking to help. They want to learn, get their hands dirty, and dare I say it again, reconnect with their food. It is so gratifying to work this way. It’s the culture of sharing food — a culture we support with our hands and our hearts.”
Blackberry Meadows Farm produce is available exclusively at the Waterworks Market District!