Multigeneratonal Family Owned Organic Farm
“You know your doctor [by name], you know your dentist, why don’t you know your farmer?” Even as a locavore, this statement by John Riehm struck me. This is true! We build relationships with the people we entrust with our health needs: our doctor, dentist, pharmacist; so then why do we not know who is behind one of the most vital elements of your health? Our food and its nutritional value has one of the greatest impacts on our overall health. At the Riehm Family Produce Farm, nutrition and integrity are the reasons behind why they want you to know who grows what you feed your family.
I was first introduced to Riehm Farms last year while trying to pick a CSA to invest in. I was having lunch at one of my favorite stops and they had two pamphlets on the counter near the register about local CSA options. The restaurant owner had such wonderful things to say about both farms, it made the decision tough, but in the end the story of Riehm Farms is what really resonated with me. The Riehm family has more than just a produce farm, they have created a multigenerational legacy in Tiffin, Ohio, sharing quality organic food and continually growing towards the future.
Growing food for fine 419 restaurants and loyal CSA members is nothing new for this century old farm. The Riehm family welcomed 5th generation farmer, Phil Riehm, back in 2014 to continue to agriculturally develop the land. His father John has been farming the land since 1978 when he graduated high school, continuing on the legacy of his father who passed away many years prior when John was very young. Through this time the sales center has progressed from a roadside cart, to a lean-to, to a tent and now the farm proudly welcomes guests into its lovely market.
The Riehm’s farm focus is on the nutritional value, which is why they choose to undertake the risks and challenges of organic farming practices. At one time, Diane Riehm was a health instructor, and was able to spark John’s interest in changing the conventionally farmed land to less harmful methods. Nutritional tests were later done comparing the nutritional value of their tomatoes vs a neighboring farms’ and hydroponic tomatoes. The results were much higher with the Riehm farms variety. This became their motivation and their focus: Healthy Soils = Healthy Crops = Healthy People
Phil’s return to the family farm brought extended knowledge from his crop science and agricultural business education from The Ohio State University. Together, Phil and John lead the team into their 14th CSA season! In 2002, as CSAs were just beginning to gain popularity in the midwest, Riehm Farms started offering CSA shares to a small community of people in Sandusky Ohio. The first season started with just 12 shares, and has continued to double ever since. Currently, they offer close to 400 shares delivered to 12 different pick-up sites across NW Ohio.
So many pick-up sites for their CSA members is just one example of how the Riehm Family serve the people they feed. They don’t just want to grow a mass amount food, hand it over and be done with it. For one, they greatly care about what each CSA member gets in their bag; how you like it, how it lasts, how to cook or preserve it, they even give recipes in their weekly newsletters. It could almost be looked at like they are your seasonally selected, picked at the peak of ripeness, nutritionally balanced food coaches. This past year I included my parents in the Farm-to-Fork dinner event held on the farm. At this dinner, all of the food served was picked directly from the field, cleaned, cooked and served over four courses by professional chefs. At the dinner, they gave us the whole story of how our food was prepared: from Farm to Fork. Guests enjoyed foods that they had maybe never tried before, my parents were quite impressed. I know personally, I am a self proclaimed beet-hater, but the roasted beet, kale, bleu cheese salad was fantastic! Not that I now LOVE beets, but I do enjoy them roasted, and mixed with other ingredients. This also gave me confidence to experiment and create a recipe that included beets (recipe coming your way this root vegetable season). They truly taught me how to use my CSA.
The influence a farm can bring to its community is huge. This job is not cheap, it’s not going to make you rich, it’s hard, and requires tremendous amounts of time and discipline. So I as the Riehms: “Why do you keep farming?”
Phil: “It’s in our blood, it’s built into our family”
Diane: “It’s helping the next generation to make them successful.”
John: “You know your doctor, you know your dentist, why don’t you know your farmer?”
It takes passion to seed, then transplant 40,000 onions by hand. Building the relationship with your CSA customers, and restaurant owners, to tell them your story, and learn about theirs; this is where it’s at. It’s more than feeding people. It’s being local.
A half CSA share of organic, locally grown food was more than adequate for our family of two, and could have easily fed a small child as well. It greatly impacted our weekly grocery budget and the value of what we picked up from week to week was worth every penny. Please take a moment to check out Riehm Produce Farm at funacres.net or on Facebook. They have full and half share spots open for the 2016 season that will start in about 3 weeks! That’s not much time, so sign up soon!! Please feel free to contact me or email@example.com for more information as well.