We are Lou Johns and Robin Ostfeld, owners of Blue Heron Farm. We met in the spring of 1978 while working on a blueberry farm in Olympia, Washington. Blue Heron Farm began as a part of a land rental agreement in Rochester, Washington on New Years day, 1981. We spent the next 5 years growing our business (from 1 to 5 acres) and our family (two amazing daughters), before deciding to uproot and transplant ourselves across the country. We found the present location, in Lodi, NY, in the fall of 1986, and plan to remain here as long as possible.
Blue Heron has been certified organic by NOFA-NY Certified Organic LLC since 1987. We are very committed to maintaining the health and biodiversity of our farm, and growing the most nutritious and tasty food possible. We use beneficial insects to eat pests like aphids in the greenhouses, and create habitat in our fields for beneficials and insect-eating birds. When insect or disease pressure becomes troubling (which is rare), we use only the least toxic, OMRI approved organic sprays. We grow cover crops, which include nitrogen –fixing legumes to improve the organic matter of the soil. For additional fertility, we use composted chicken manure, which improves the microbial health of the soil, while breaking down slowly to feed the crops without polluting groundwater.
From the very beginning we have made season extension a main focus of our operation. The first high tunnels were built in 1990, and the first greenhouse in 1995. Today, we have two permanent high tunnels, (or hoop houses, as we usually call them), and four greenhouses. We use these growing areas for both crop production (mainly early and late greens, peppers and tomatoes) and to grow plants for sale. Unusual annual flowers, annual and perennial herbs, and many different kinds of vegetable transplants are sold in the spring to ambitious and environmentally conscious local gardeners.
Fall storage crops are a big part of season extension as well. We plant a large percentage of our acreage to root vegetables, as well as cabbage, onions, garlic and winter squash. Around 1993, we began to build efficient storage rooms, both refrigerated and heated, in our 2 story 1880’s barn. We found that we could store a wide variety of crops and provide top quality produce to our customers all winter long.
Although Blue Heron is not open to the public, we do offer farm tours and are happy to welcome visitors and literally share the fruits of our labor at these times.