Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Tilth Farm preps for season of fresh produce

By Hannah Turnbull

            With spring fading and summer quickly approaching, it’s the time of the year where favorite fruits and vegetables make their return. West Side Tilth Farm is working extensively to deliver the freshest produce to the West Side community.

            The farm, 246 Normal Ave., provides naturally, organically grown produce using sustainable sources. The farm believes in using minimal technology, with most work being done by small hand- or battery-operated tools. Twenty-six solar panels have been installed to drive the power behind the farm. These solar panels help power the cooler, greenhouse fans, and charge the tools used in the field.

            West Side Tilth is committed to using organic growing practices for its produce. All soil is imported and placed atop a geotextile barrier, which prevents the migration of possible contaminants. Implementing techniques like crop rotation and protected culture mitigate the spread of disease.

            West Side Tilth Farm grows everything from carrots to tulips. Everything is grown according to the season, as well as being fertilized naturally, owner Carrie Nader said.  

            West Side Tilth has sought to make fresh produce more accessible to the city. The farm works with local businesses to sell its products. Businesses like Shop Craft, Wild Things, Marble and Rye, Butter Block, and The Farm Shop all sell produce from West Side Tilth.

            Shelley Isaacs from The Farm Shop, 235 Lexington Ave., said there is a mutually beneficial relationship between them and West Side Tilth Farm.

            “They’re great. We support each other, even on social media,” Isaacs said.

            The Farm Shop sells nearly all of West Side Tilth’s produce. Right now, onions, tulips, and lettuce are popular.

The farm has been providing fresh produce to the West Side since 2017. They are known for their annual farmers market held in the summer season. The farmers market will be open this summer from July to November. The market will be open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  where West Side Tilth and other local vendors will be selling products. West Side Tilth will be selling its produce and handmade pizzas. The pizzas are made with a slow-fermented crust and topped with the farm’s very own vegetables.

Despite preparing for a busy summer season, Nader acknowledges that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the farm.

            “The hardest part was not knowing what to expect. It was a lot of ‘what if’ planning.” Nader said.

            Last year’s farmers market was cancelled due to social distancing concerns.

West Side Tilth is a unique farm aside from its sustainable sourcing. The farm accepts payment from those apart of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and Farmers Market Nutrition Checks. These are both national programs that have been established to help people afford fresh, healthy food.

            “It’s great to have fresh produce in any urban environment. They’re giving these people access to healthy food.” Isaacs said.

            Though the farm is not open to the public, West Side Tilth hosts several special events throughout the year.