Growing up I never quite understood why my Mom was so drawn to gardening. She’d be out there in the summer under the hot sun and I’d think she was crazy. “They’re just plants. We don’t need them.” But we did, you see. My love of nature and of the outdoors comes from walks with my parents in the woods behind our house, and from seeing each type of flower throughout the seasons. I would wait all year for the bleeding hearts to bloom, for the mayapples to pop up…and for the juiciest tomatoes and raspberries that I could pluck off and eat after school. It did indeed matter a great deal. And that’s why she loved it. That’s why so many people love it.
I immediately felt that passion coming from Becky & Steve Wolf of Wolf Farms, and its’ sister business, Wolf Farm Natural Elements. Becky and Steve have been farming for years, but about 5 years in the Washington County area. They not only grow incredible organic produce, but they work to educate other growers and make it a whole lot easier to start a garden, whether it’s in the grand scale or in your backyard. By finding local sources for fertilizers, seeds, and feeds, they have been able to alleviate some of the pain and expense that often goes along with organic farming. Learning never stops in any field, and that’s certainly true in farming. Pun intended.
Along with the farming products they talk about below, you can find them selling carrots, a variety of potatoes, lavender, basil, onions, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, and more! Also, the body butter they sell? Heavens, it smells good and it keeps your hands feeling soft as a baby’s bottom. Yeah, I got that expression from my mom too.
Enjoy the interview and make sure to visit them either Tuesday or Saturday at the Abingdon Farmer’s Market! What’s more exciting, is that they’ve begun selling their produce at Blue Hills Market on Pecan Street! Go check them out and pick up your veggies for dinner. And if you’ve ever got any gardening questions? Becky and Steve Wolf are the people to see.
“Sarah: So you guys were telling me last week about how you have fertilizer and stuff like that, and that you help other farms with their crops? Can you tell me a little about that?
Steve: Well we started a business here locally that supplies organic feeds, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, all that kind of stuff to the local farmers, because we found that there was a real need for supplies locally that the normal feed stores, and things like that, might have a little bit here and there of different products, but nobody had everything and they might not have what you need at the time you need it. So, we just felt there was a niche there.
Becky: And then the freight charge.
Steve: Yeah, so then you had to go online to buy and then you’re paying all the freight. So, we’ve partnered with Seven Springs out of Floyd, Virginia, Red Bud Farm down by Blountville, Tennessee. We’ve got feeds coming from New Country Organics in Waynesboro, Virginia. A non-GMO feed, it’s not organic but it’s non-GMO, and it’s coming out of Stuarts Draft, Virginia. So those are some of the main suppliers. Then we also use Country Boy Seed [Bristol], which is not an organic supply but they do have raw and natural seeds, and are fairly regional in a lot of those sources and supplies. And they do a lot of cover crops, hay and straw, and things like that.
Sarah: And I’m sure you guys have created such a network of farms.
Becky: Oh yeah.
Sarah: I’m sure that now you’ve made connections and friends with so many local farms around here too. You kind of know everyone, I guess.
Steve: Yeah, yeah. Well, we’ve kind of been involved with farmer’s markets here and in Glade Springs for 5 years now. So, yeah, we’ve got a network of a lot of folks and made those connections. And that got us…everybody commiserated the same way with us as far as getting supplies and how expensive it was. So that’s what also helped us make the decision to get into that business. Once we started that, now one of our outreaches is to try to get to the small town garden, master gardener type, and those kind of people. So we were at the Master Gardener Faire..
Sarah: Is that like community gardens?
Steve: Well there’s community gardens. But Master Gardeners is a club that you have to become certified in. It’s more than just a club, you actually have to go through hours and hours of training and volunteer work to show that you know what you’re talking about. And then you become a Master Gardener and it’s a certification you have and can carry. Maybe one day we might go that route.
Becky: But they buy products from us.
Steve: Right, right. They’re big into the organics, so we can supply them as well. So, we were at that Garden Faire earlier this year and that got us a little bit better known in that circle. So, we’re broadening that whole base out.
Sarah: What is this whole local community mean to you all, especially being as tight-knit as it is? What does the idea of purchasing locally and keeping it local mean to you?
Steve: Well, I think to me…you’re supporting each other in all your endeavors. You’re keeping the money locally, it’s not going off to some big corporation somewhere. Some of it’s still happening, because you’re handling materials and stuff, but with our produce and farm goods and all these other crafters and their goods and stuff, it’s all local. That money stays here and is re-used. We shop with them, they shop with us. All that kind of stuff back and forth.
Becky: And as far as the food, just knowing where your food comes from and knowing what’s in your food ‘cause they’re getting the stuff from us too. It’s just really important. The education there too, I mean we learn from them, they learn from us. And trusting what they’re telling us.
Sarah: Do you keep learning every day?
Becky & Steve: Oh yeah, oh yeah.
Steve: You don’t stop, it’s constant. And it is a tight-knit community, I really feel. I’ve lived in a lot of different places and they really believe in supporting your local business around here. I mean there are other communities that do that too, but I’ve really felt that this Abingdon and Washington County area really does try and do that. So that’s been nice to see.
Sarah: How did you all get started in the business?
Becky: Well we started with just Wolf Farm, the produce side. Like he was saying, we started this other business, Wolf Farm Natural Elements, just because it was so hard getting the organic product and so that’s how we started in with this. So it’s kind of two businesses in one. But one supports the other. Plus, we just believe in the all-natural, organic. The health side of it, too.
Sarah: It makes me so excited hearing about all this stuff. It makes me want to start my own small garden just for me!
Steve: Well we can help you out!”
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