Matt Herbruck, a local grower and owner of Birdsong Farm in Garrettsville, moved from Maine to Portage County eight years ago and quickly became involved in local food markets.
Herbruck, approaching his 22nd season, introduced himself to the community and discussed his farm operation and the benefits of sourcing food locally during a presentation at Garrettsville Library recently.
Herbruck's mission is to grow healthy food in an organic setting and to develop relationships in the community. He conducts most business at area farmers markets; 65 percent of his direct sales are done in $2 to $3 increments at a time.
"Farmers markets are so important to me because the community they help build," he said. "It's the place I get to meet you and get to know what food you like, and get to know what your concerns are about how your food is being grown."
Herbruck is a USDA-certified organic farmer, which requires a yearly certification and site inspection. Several elements set organic farmers apart from the rest, starting with soil type and organic seeds to avoiding the use of any harmful herbicides and petroleum based fertilizers on food, water and soil.
There's several benefits to eating locally grown food rather than food sold at the supermarket, including the fact that fresh foods are healthier. Herbruck noted as soon as a crop is plucked from the ground the nutrient levels start deteriorating and sugars turn to starches.
Herbruck is known for growing a variety of produce on his 22-acre farm, appealing to adventurous eaters. He grows everything from arugula and mizuna to Bora King radish and Tsugaru to Thai eggplants and purple Peruvian potatoes, one of his most in-demand items.
Accessing local foods year-round is easy, he said.
Area farmers' markets include Haymaker in Kent, Chagrin Falls, Aurora, Warren, Geauga Fresh Farmers Market, Howland, Monroe's Orchard, Woolf's Blueberry, Ravenna and Mantua. Herbruck encourages the community to get out to a farmers market for the experience of being outside and meeting local farmers.
Community Supported Agriculture is another way in which people can take out a share in a local farm and have access to locally grown, seasonal crops. Herbruck delivers produce to about 70 families in the community through his CSA accounts.
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4152