Meet Our Board Members: Nathan Strange, of Strange & Co., farm, nursery and mercantile
Are you on GFMA’s general board, executive, or advisory board?
What region do you represent on the board?
Why did you join GFMA?
I'm a huge supporter of food access, health, and small business. Farmers markets are a part of all of these things. By pooling our resources, we will be able to strengthen the work that we, as individuals, do to better our communities.
Why do you think others should join GFMA?
Strength in numbers! We will have greater pull in local and state legislation, we will be able to share our learning experiences, and help each other along our various paths. Combined resources, baby!
As a board member, how do you support the work of GFMA?
I'm still finding my place to best assist in our work and am looking forward to finding my niche. I have my hands in several areas of farm and food life, so hopefully I'll be able to use my diverse knowledge and experience as a farmer, vendor, and market activist to the greatest benefit of everyone involved.
Where do you grow?
Strange & Co. is what we're going by right now. We are a farm, nursery, and mercantile. We were formerly Widdershins Urban Farmstead, but no one could pronounce it, spell it, or remember it. Let that be a lesson to anyone thinking about farm names!
Where is it located?
East Point, Georgia
What do you grow/produce?
The nursery focuses on naturally raised seedlings and plants of vegetables, fruits, flowers, perennials, and hopefully soon we'll start growing out edible and pollinator trees. I start and sell thousands of plants each year, and I love each and every one! With the farm, we are experimenting with more flowers this year for the cut flower market. Our chickens usually lay enough extra that we are able to sell at market or to our friends and neighbors. We also have honeybees, but they aren't producing enough honey for resale yet. Soon, though, I hope!
What GFMA benefit are you most excited about implementing?
Oh, there are so many - do I need to choose?
Is this a family business? If so, who/how is your family involved?
It is pretty much my project. My husband assists me with the plants when he can and when I need him to, but it is definitely not his passion. He is the beekeeper of the family.
Are you involved with a local market?
I have been an avid supporter of the East Point Farmers Market (EPFM) for the past three years, over which time the market has transformed from a once per month, seasonal market to what is now a weekly, year round event. We have seen a 400% growth in our market this year, much of it due to the success of Wholesome Wave. Our community is responding so positively, we only see more wonderful things happening!
Do you have a leadership position there?
I am not on the board of our market, but as a vendor and supporter, I have worked hard to network with our vendors, do outreach into the community, brainstorm with the board, and anything else they need me to do. Our board is passionate and strong, and anything I can do to support them, I will.
Why do you think it has been so successful?
Key to our success has been our involvement with Wholesome Wave. Councilman Calloway had also brought in a senior voucher program in 2015 that has been a raging success. I believe that community outreach and farmer- market networking will be key for all of us, and I am eager to work with the GFMA to make that happen.
This is a very exciting time for farmers markets in Georgia!
What’s the most exciting progress you saw in 2015?
Local, naturally raised food no longer has an "elite" stigma attached. Folks from all walks of life are understanding the importance of good food to their personal health, the economy, and the future of our world.
What do you hope to see happen in 2016?
Two things in education: 1) Variety knowledge: I'd love to see folks trying unusual or rare varieties, and understanding that, for example, there is more to a tomato than the red thing you find at the grocery store. 2) Basic food preparation knowledge: So many folks don't know *how* to use the things they find at the market, or even at the grocery store.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting a farming business?
I'm passionate about urban farming. You can grow tons of food on a VERY limited space. Don't let a lack of acreage stop you! Heck, even without a yard, you can still grow an abundance of sprouts, shoots, micro-greens, and more, with minimal investment. All you need are some shelves and some lights, though you could even argue that! I started with a 10'x 12' patio. Now I'm using my 1/5 acre urban yard. Maybe I'll take my neighbors up on their offers to use theirs as well. No rush, I've got plenty to do.
What’s your favorite vegetable? Least favorite?
Favorite? Oh, that's hard. Probably Zucchino Rampicante squash. The flowers are prolific and delicious. Picked small, they are better than a zucchini. Let them ripen on the vine and they're like a delicious butternut with excellent keeping qualities. *And* they are virtually pest and disease free. I also love day lilies. The flowers are so sweet, and the entire plant is edible...and beautiful! My least favorite is not a vegetable, but an herb. I despise cilantro! Can't even grow it because the smell is too much for me. Its all in the genes!
Read more about Nathan and her farm at their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/WiddershinsFarmstead/?fref=ts