My young nephew presented a Glory B Farms strawberry to me a few summers ago, cradled carefully as the special gift it was, in his small outreached hands. “Carrie. Try one.”
He spoke quietly and reverently, like sharing a good secret.
“Put one in your mouth and keep it there a loooong time.”
He was telling me to savor that Grays River strawberry, grown by Tom and April Zimmerman at Glory B Farms. He was right of course; those little strawberries pack a burst of flavor and sweetness special to this farm and valley.
Tom attributes the sweetness to the cool nights of the Grays River Valley, where he grows ten acres of certified organic fruits and vegetables.
“Cool nights mean sweeter strawberries. Our carrots and beets get sweet with cool nights, and it doesn’t hurt the corn either,” he said. “It gets cool here in this part of the county; we average three to four degrees cooler than other areas.”
Tom knows Grays River Valley from the ground up. Tom started growing food here as a youngster, moving to Grays River from Gearhart, Ore., with his family to farm when he was in the eighth grade. He appreciates the productive soil of Grays River; not many places compare in soil fertility. He aims to keep it that way.
“We try to keep soil fertility up. I think vegetables are more nutritious that way; like lime helps bring calcium up in vegetables. Lime is calcium carbonate. Calcium is used by the plant more than anything else. Plants can’t take up other things well without lime, like nitrogen or phosphorous.” He’s quick to point out that soil fertility doesn’t stop with lime. “Lime makes the vegetables grow well, but if you don’t add nutrients, the soil gets depleted.”
Tom and his wife April sell their organic vegetables from Glory B Farms to local customers with their annual CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. April manages customer service and bookkeeping, while daughter Chloe operates the website. Together, they offer more than fifty different fruit, vegetable and herb varieties for this year’s CSA customers.
As is the case for other Wahkiakum farms, a global pandemic doesn’t mean the work stops.
“I haven’t really skipped a beat. I’m going to try to make the best use of my land,” Tom said, farming all of his ten organic certified acres to meet customer demand and try a few new things, like stevia. “I have a good bed of it this year. It’s a tropical plant in higher elevations. Its in my hot green house this year and it’s growing well in there. It’s really sweet, with a touch of bitter,” he said. Tom will be bunching up stevia this year for his customers to try as a natural sweetener in their tea or smoothies.
Customer favorites include lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers and zucchini.
“And of course, strawberries. We will have raspberries too – they are blooming now,” he said. “I like the lettuce; corn is always good. Snap peas are good any which way. April likes the cherry tomatoes. The beets are really good in the summer.” No matter your preference, it is hard to go wrong with produce from a farm prioritizing good soils, great flavor, and high nutrition.
Tom and April focus on good customer experiences and quality products, operating a user-friendly website and coordinating deliveries to convenient drop off locations in Grays River, Long Beach, Astoria, Naselle and South Bend/Raymond. They will set up a drop off location in areas with ten or more CSA customers.
April and Chloe keep the Glory B Farms website up to date with frequently asked questions, postings on produce expected for this week’s boxes, and an easy-to-use ordering and payment system. Customers can choose small or regular sized shares; and full season, half season, or monthly subscriptions. Payments can be made directly on their website or by mailed check. The first boxes go out June 18.
Find CSA information and more details on Glory B Farms at http://www.glorybfarmscsa.com, look for them on Facebook at Glory B Farms, or email email@example.com. They can be reached via phone at (360) 465-2168.