A Stroll Through the Garden: Evermore Farm

Hello, Garden Gals and Guys! The past week has been a very interesting one for me. I've been down with an awful flu and not able to do any of my seed starting. To top it off, we just had a few inches of snow dumped on us on the fifth day of spring. I'm glad that I didn't start any cold crops out in the garden because they surely would have died.

I don't have any seeds to blog about, but I do have another spotlight in my "Stroll Through the Garden" series. My husband and I recently switched from buying grocery store meat to purchasing our meat from a farm. Why? I've read too many awful things about what goes into the meat you get at the grocery store. We decided to take back our food, not only by growing our own veggies, but by purchasing from a local farm where we know the farmer who has raised our food.

The Myers Family. Photo courtesy of Evermore Farm.
Meet The Myers Family. In the middle are John and Ginger, the owners of Evermore Farm, a small, family-owned and operated produce and livestock farm located in Westminster, Maryland. I had the pleasure of meeting Ginger through the Maryland New Farmer Trainee program that I am a graduate of. I immediately respected her because her passion for farming was so naturally conveyed in her words and her presentation. When we made the choice to buy from a local farm, she immediately came to mind. Her meats are mouth-watering and the flavors are so vibrant and fresh, I wish I had gone with her sooner! Well, enough of my rambling, read the interview and see for yourself.

DivaGardener: How did you get started farming?

Ginger Myers: John and I are both hard-wired to farm. We're at least four-generation farmers, as far back as we know, and while our forefathers may have also had jobs like carpenter or truck driver, they never could sever their bond to the land. We grew up in farming families, mostly dairy and livestock. We were married in 1980 and went into dairying ourselves just in time to see milk prices plummet and interest rates hit 18-20%. I jokingly tell folks that we are recovering dairy farmers - a hard place to make a living but a great place to raise a family. We are blessed to have two grown children now and wonderful grandchildren. They're by far the best crop we've ever raised.

DivaGardener: I believe that knowing who farms your food is important. Tell us about Evermore Farm and
Evermore Farm, Westminster, MD.
Photo courtesy of Evermore Farm.
the products you sell.

Ginger Myers: We follow a variety of sustainable farming practices including rotational grazing. Our herd and flock have access to over 28 acres of pasture at Evermore Farm. At our second facility, Father's Care Farm, we have 58 acres of pastures for our sheep and cattle to graze. Grazing on open pasture helps with the general health of the animal: they get exercise. They absorb sunshine. They breathe fresh air. They seem happier that way, and we are too. We have products available at the farm year-round and also participate in several farmers markets. We offer: pasture-raised meats and poultry; farm-fresh eggs; and CSA Produce and Protein shares. Our pasture-raised meats are managed from birth with humane care and sustainable practices; have no steroids or synthetic hormones; no preservatives or dyes; are USDA federally inspected; are in smaller portions that fit today's family unit; are vacuum sealed for extended freezer life; are economical and convenient; are tender and taste delicious.

DivaGardener: Your website states that you follow natural, sustainable farming practices, which includes rotational grazing. We hear those words a lot in the farming/gardening community. Can you explain what this means and why it is important?

Evermore Farm Livestock
Photo courtesy Evermore Farm
Ginger Myers: Rotational grazing is a process whereby livestock are strategically moved to fresh paddocks, or partitioned pasture areas, to allow vegetation in previously grazed pastures to regenerate. Rotational grazing encourages an even distribution of grazing throughout a paddock, allowing resting periods in between rotations that help maintain the health of forage. This discourages competition from weeds and undesirable plant species that often invade when forage is overgrazed and weakened. Other advantages include: more efficient use of forage compared to continuous grazing; and improved nutrient distribution (manure) since livestock have fixed schedules, each rotation covering a limited area in each paddock. Much as we like, sometimes weather and other work conditions prevent us from rotating the animals as much as we would prefer. Still, this is a management practice we try very hard to implement wherever it's practical for us.

DivaGardener: What does "whole farming system" mean and why is it needed to change our food system?

Ginger Myer: The term "whole farming system" refers to a management style that looks at the triple bottom line for a farm- profitability, environmental concerns and community linkage. For us it is as much a mindset approach to looking for the interconnections of our enterprises as it is a management tool. We try to have the farm managed as cycle - the sunshine grows the grass, the animals consume the grass, and then fertilize the fields for more grass to grow. In the garden we use compost produced here on the farm to grow crops that will be sold. Animals, plants, people and nature work in a cycle. Think of the line from the musical "The Lion King" when they talk about the "circle of life". Same thing.

Commodity farming often looks at one crop and intensive production of that crop regardless of other assets on the farm or often requires additional inputs be purchased and brought onto the farm. In the long run, this may not be sustainable in terms of natural resources or profitability.

DivaGardener: Tell us more about how you support local food systems.

Ginger Myers: We sell the majority of our products in a 50-mile radius. We work at keeping our customer
An Evermore Hog with her babies.
Photo courtesy of Evermore Farm
base "local" and putting a face on their farmer. One of the best compliments I ever received was from a neighbor who told me that he boasted to his coworkers that he could walk out onto his back porch and see the farm where his food was grown.  We try to link our community through partnership programs including donations to churches, neighborhood local food projects, food banks, and supplying gift certificates for fund-raising events. The farm hosts a limited number of farm tours for young children and their families.

DivaGardener: In a world where it's easy to believe that bigger and faster is better, you take the stance that there is viability in the small farm. Can you define "small" and explain how and why you strive to keep Evermore Farm small?

Ginger Myers: Make mo mistake about it, a small farm still needs to be efficiently managed- both
Cows at Evermore Farm
Photo courtesy of Evermore Farm
resources and time; if it's to be profitable enough to be sustainable. "Small" is a relative term. The Small Business Administration defines a small business as one that generates less than $250,000 in sales. Some small farms can do that; so sales aren't always a good yard stick. Most small farms I know are somewhere between 1-50 acres. Some small grazing operations will get close to 100 acres; so while a benchmark; not all small farms have really small acreage of 10 acres or less. One of the primary differentials for small farms though is the labor issue.

Most small farms have only family working or a very limited amount of hired labor. That's certainly our situation. We do use some hired labor to supplement our own since John and I both have off-farm jobs. Another primary trait of our "small" farm is that we know our livestock very well. Most everything we sell was born, started from seed, or produced on this farm. We know cow families, sheep breeding, the hogs have had several sets of  pigs here, and the chickens grow old here. I joke that our eggs are hand-produced. I raise the chicks, hand-gather the eggs, and feed the flock by hand. Finally, I clean and grade eggs by hand and package them myself. Viola, hand-crafted, fresh, brown farm eggs.

DivaGardener: If there was one piece of adv ice you could give to someone that wanted to start a garden what would it be?

Ginger Myers: Grow what you like to eat and don't worry about what others say you should be growing.

DivaGardener: I am always looking to support local agriculture. Are there other local agricultural businesses you like to frequent?

Ginger Myers: Paul and Emma Sorenson, Gravel Springs Farms. Great young couple just getting started in market gardening and poultry production.

DivaGardener: What inspires you?

Ginger Myers: My family and my faith. Some days are more challenging than others but I keep a message on my refrigerator door that says, "Some day I will not be able to do all this. Today is not that day."

There you have it, garden gals and guys! I'd like to send a huge thank you to my new garden pal, Ginger Myers, for taking time out of  her very busy schedule to take a stroll through the garden with us. If you are within driving distance of Evermore Farm, I can tell you from first-hand experience that you won't regret it! Her meats are amazing and the eggs are divine. My personal favorite is the bacon....OH MY...it's heavenly!!!!!

If you happen to stop by the Evermore Farm, tell Ginger DivaGardener sent you!

Until next time garden gals and guys....

Happy garden thoughts!

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