My name is Patty Gentry. I own and operate Early Girl Farm in Brookhaven, NY. Early Girl is an intensively planted, highly diversified two and a half acre farm that grows produce primarily for wholesale to restaurants.
Before starting a career in farming 5 years ago, I worked as a Chef in the restaurant business for over 20 years. I have lasting memories of ingredients that captured my heart and taste buds over the years like the first time I tasted a tender stalk of spring asparagus, a sweet English Pea or the bittersweet crunch of a perfect head of escarole.
Each time I plant a seed I envision a perfect, healthy plant growing in the field with vibrant color - its taste a perfect blend of sweet, sour, salty, bitter or spicy flavors in my mind's eye. I see the plants thriving and forming shiny, green leaves, shoots, roots and fruits loaded with nutrients and depth of flavor like the ones I remember from the kitchens I have worked in from the past.
The reality in my fields, however, was often quite different from the utopia I had created in my mind. I realized that I lacked a deep understanding of how the living soil works.
In my desire to grow produce on par with the quality I imagined, I found a workshop being taught by Dan Kittredge of BFA. There I learned how to read a soil test and write a "prescription" of minerals for the fields based on deficits I now could see and understand. In the past I added compost and amendments because I heard they helped the soil; I had a limited understanding of their true role in the grand scheme of things.
After the workshop I started looking at the fields in a different way. Instead of seeing bugs and disease as the enemy I saw them as my teachers pointing toward an imbalance in the environment at the farm. They prompted me to take a closer look at possible mineral imbalances, soil moisture and air flow.
Results at Early Girl Farm. Since taking the class 3 years ago, I have enjoyed longer harvests, better tasting produce, fewer bug and disease problems. Head lettuce, escarole and cabbage get heavier and bigger as they sit in their beds with less bottom rot and waste. I can get more cuttings from beds of greens. Flowering, fruiting plants produce more perfect, better tasting fruits for longer periods of time and with higher yields. My customers tell me they can taste a difference in the vegetables I am selling them.
In addition to helping me read a soil test and implement a better soil stewardship program the class opened my mind to the teachings of William Albrecht, Dr. Maynard Murray, Carey Reams, Phil Callahan, Rudolf Steiner, Charles Walters and others who have spent their life's work bringing balance and health back to agriculture naturally. I am inspired to learn about the paramagnetic quality of rock, the intense mineralizing power of ocean water, the influence of the moon and stars, the living microorganisms in the soil and the energy of water. Everything I learn and implement brings better balance and health to the fields.
BFA sparked a fire in me and raised the bar for the production of the highest quality vegetables and fruits possible. My hope is that everyone interested in eating and living better finds his or her way to a BFA workshop. It will change your life and your farm for the better.
Learn more about Patty's farm at www.EarlyGirlFarm.com.