Organic Farm at Bear Creek certified to meet all USDA organic standards

June 29th, 2007    Author: Michael Bradley    Filed Under: News

The Organic Farm at Bear Creek, located in Washington Township near the village of Chilo, is a family enterprise that produces high quality and certified organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs.

The farm, which has been owned and operated by Jeff and Sandra Ashba, and Darrick and Libby Massey for the last five years, has been certified to meet all of the USDA Organic standards set up by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA).

“Everything we grow and produce is organic, which is the natural process by which you raise and fertilize crops” said New Richmond resident Sandra Ashba. “Under the organic ruling by the USDA, you must use organic seeds or seedlings to start your plants with. Our seed saving program enables us to re-use and recycle the seeds every year. We do not use any synthetic, chemically-treated, or enhanced products – everything is natural.”

Giving a tour of the fields, greenhouses, and production facilities at The Organic Farm at Bear Creek June 23 is from left, New Richmond residents Sandra Ashba and Jeff Ashba, and Sandra
The profitable Organic Farm at Bear Creek contains a total of 51 acres, eight of which are used for growing the many products that are available for sale at many local farmer's markets and several selected retail outlets in the local area.

"We produce a large variety of vegetables, greens, lettuce, and herbs," said Jeff Ashba. "Every year, we produce tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, onions, green beans, the squash family, the melon family, cucumbers, and lettuce (salad mixed greens)."

The Ashbas and the Masseys also produce many herbs on the farm, including rosemary, lavender, oregano, and basil, to name only a few.

Sandra Ashba, who is the village administrator for Moscow, said that fertilization and pest control are accomplished using natural fish and seaweed emulsions, organic minerals, pepper sprays, composted materials, and especially, crop rotation.

"Crop rotation inhibits insects and promotes the growth of the plants," she said. "We only use sustainable agricultural practices."

The farm uses three fresh-water springs located on the property for irrigation. Rainfall, which has been scarce lately, has contributed to lower yields than normal this year and last, but they are making do, Sandra said.

The farm has a cannery license from the Ohio Department of Agriculture which Darrick Massey says allows them to 'capture the goodness of our fresh vegetable year-round."

"We take our produce from the field into the certified kitchen (which is inspected every year) inside the cannery where everything is prepped, prepared, canned, and boxed," he said.

The Organic Bear Creek Farm has created other products as well. They have their own signature salsa (hot and mild), a barbecue sauce, a pasta sauce, different varieties of vegetable and tomato soups, and two salad dressings.

"These products were made by us in small batches using recipes first developed by us years ago when we operated a restaurant," said Jeff Ashba.

In what they describe as a 'previous life,' the Ashba and Massey family used to own and operate the 'Sea Legs' floating restaurant in New Richmond until the disastrous flood of 1997 forced its closure.

As business, and the growing desire for organic products has increased in the past five years, many capital improvements to the farm have been completed. They have built several new buildings and have invested heavily in the cannery, the kitchen, and the equipment needed to effectively operate the organic farm.

Bear Creek has direct-sells, but does not sell off-the-farm. For more information on the farm or to place an order (they do deliver), visit www.organicfarmatbearcreek.com or call the farm direct at (513) 553-6859.
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