Broadfork Farm provides fresh food for the community

Posted April 9, 2012 at 9:20 AM, Filed Under: Business, Village Mill

By Lynda Raines
Copy Editor

Janet Aardema and Dan Gagnon, owners of Broadfork Farm in Moseley, Va., are returning to Brandermill Green Market this year, doing what they’ve always dreamed of by providing their community with fresh, healthy food. During the Green Market season, beginning May 5 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Broadfork Farm will harvest salad greens, lettuce, spinach, asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, peas, eggs, kale, chard, collards, peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, okra, cut flowers, herbs, summer squash, winter squash, cucumbers, green beans, onions, garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cut flowers.

“Having a market so close to our farm means we get to provide for our neighbors, our close community members, making the connection between people and the food they eat very real,” says Aardema.

A True Family Farm

The 5-acre Broadfork Farm is a small family farm that is a mix of cultivated land and forest, with a small orchard of 30 fruit trees. Aardema and Gagnon are farmers with interesting backgrounds. They both hold bachelor’s degrees in biology from Davidson and Lafayette Colleges, respectively, and Aardema earned a master’s degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. They share a passion for farm education and plan to find a way to work agriculture into mainstream education.
The couple worked on farms from the Northeast to the Northwest before settling in Chesterfield County, where Aardema grew up. Broadfork Farm is a true family farm—Aardema’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins live on land right next door, and Aardrema and Gagnon have three young children, Sylvie, 4, Joren, 2, and Elletta, who was born in December. According to their parents, Sylvie and Joren are already trying their hands at farming, and are especially good at gently holding the chickens.

An Eco-Friendly Farming Method

Broadfork Farm is currently pursuing organic certification and employs ecological-friendly, organic methods such as using compost for fertilizer; planting cover crops to enhance soil fertility; and practicing crop rotation and utilizing soil amendments to provide the richest, most natural environment in which plants can flourish. Raised beds are used to allow close spacing of plants and to prevent soil-compaction, which makes for happier plant roots. No chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides are used. “Growing high-quality food in a sustainable manner is the most conscientious way for us to make our living,” Aardema says. “The concept of right-livelihood is of great importance to us. Providing healthy food is essential for our community and an endeavor that allows us to live most in line with our values.”

Chickens Help the Soil

Broadfork Farm chickens range on grass during the day and eat plenty of produce scraps. They spend their nights in secure coops, and their coops and fenced areas are moved to fresh grass on a regular basis. This ensures that the chickens have healthy food to eat and that the fields are fertilized in rotation.

For more information, please visit the website at www.broadforkfarm.net and Broadfork Farm on Facebook. The phone number is 337-6540.