By Keith Loria
September 7, 2021
In the produce world, many consumers prioritize cost, but there are people who will pay a premium for Amish-grown foods that not only offer delicious flavors but are grown through safe and effective methods. Green Field Farms is dedicated to supporting the farmers that provide those fruits and vegetables.
Based in Wooster, OH, Green Field Farms is a cooperative that was founded as an Amish, organic farming cooperative in 2003.
“The produce program officially started in about 2007 and quickly grew to become a viable outlet for selling organic produce in small, Amish, family horse farms,” said Leon Wengerd, CEO of Green Field Farms. “Horse farming is a very important part of who we are. Our horse farming techniques and other farming techniques date all the way back to Europe from our forefathers coming to America and being the forerunners of agriculture.”
In addition to using horse-drawn equipment, Green Field’s farmers use earth-friendly, organic fertilizers. They also apply methods that go “beyond organic,” such as dedicating themselves to wholesome values and wholesome foods, as well as undergoing third-party audits.
“Early on we were looking at production standards to verify or guarantee the authenticity of the high level of quality,” Wengerd said. “In building our production standards, we discovered that we’re right up against organic, so we adopted the organic standards, and all of our produce is certified organic by the USDA. We go with the slogan, Beyond Organic, because to qualify to be a member of Green Field Farms, one of the standards or guidelines is you need to be a member of an Amish or Conservative Mennonite community that uses horse-and-buggy for transportation, that’s our seal of authenticity and it guarantees this produce to be grown on an Amish, horse-farming community.”
Many of the practices that have long been part of the Amish tradition fall in line with popular modern trends, such as organic and the farm-to-table movement. Green Field’s farmers also take care of their land with cover cropping to eliminate erosion and build up organic matter in the soil.
“That is a key ingredient for raising healthy organic produce that holds up well on the shelf in the store or in the food distribution system,” Wengerd said. “That is why we have our own in-house soil amendment program.”
That program involves a farmer sending a soil sample to a lab. The report is analyzed by Green Field so that a custom-blend organic fertilizer, or soil amendment, can be designed specifically for that farm, thus making it ideal for growing healthy food.
Green Field Farms offers its farmers marketing services, production support, community engagement and a community vision for the farms’ futures.
Wengerd said the cooperative acts as a bridge between the farmer and consumers.
“Historically, the Amish people have been very good at building great products, raising good-quality healthy food, but are weak on sales and marketing,” he said. “So the cooperative is set out to be that medium to take that good, healthy food to the end consumer.”
It’s all about fulfilling the co-op’s vision of preserving a lifestyle and encouraging people and communities to practice faithful land stewardship, while fulling the mission of building a brand that reflects these farmers’ faith and way of life.