Nicolas & Jeni are the faces behind Crystal Organic Farm in Newborn, GA. They've been growing produce for our meal kits since the beginning, and we've always loved working with them. You can tell the folks at Crystal are passionate about what they're doing, and we can't thank them enough for it. We asked Nicolas a few questions about the farm, so keep reading! Crystal's cucumbers will be in our Crispy Chicken Katsu meal kit this week.
G&G: Where is Crystal Organic Farm located?
Nicolas: The farm is in Newborn, GA, about an hour east of Atlanta.
G&G: How did you get into farming?
Nicolas: My mom always had a garden here in the early 80s, and I was asked to help out when I was 16, 17 years old in high school. The land was always available, and then after graduating college and traveling around, the land was calling me back again. I cleared the area that had been a big garden when I was in school–it was basically abandoned since my mom couldn’t take care of it. In 1994 I cleaned it up and grew from there.
G&G: What’s your favorite crop to grow? Why?
Nicolas: It really depends on the season. I know I like bitter greens the best when it comes to eating–frisée and radicchio especially, but I also enjoy growing all kinds of other crops. Everything has its positives and negatives.
G&G: Tell us a fun fact about Crystal Organic Farm!
Nicolas: The reason it’s called Crystal is because there’s a little area on the farm itself that you can actually pick quartz crystals. Once you find them you can polish them up and make a necklace out of them.
G&G: What’s the hardest part of operating a farm?
Nicolas: There are a lot of challenges, and the hardest part depends on the day you ask me this question. Today the challenge is balancing life and farming and still having a life outside of farming. Also, lately the weather has just been so sporadic. The thunderstorms and rain have been a challenge, trying to manage the farm through all that. The soil stays wet for 2 or 3 weeks and that prevents you from pulling weeds outside the high tunnels and they grow so quickly, it’s almost impossible to get them out.
The biggest part of my job is growing good soil for healthy and strong plants. The soil should be nourishing so that will be more resistant to the pressure from bugs and disease. The soil is where it all starts. There are living organisms in it and you have to feed them. Planting a seed and actually having a crop are two different things. There’s a lot of work in-between and a lot of chances to fail–you have to learn not to take it personally.
G&G: Do you have any animals at Crystal?
Nicolas: We used to have a lot of chickens, but that was a while ago. We just got 20 heritage breed chickens for personal use. They’re egg layers, not for production, so we always have fresh eggs to eat at home.
G&G: We’re using your cucumbers in a meal kit coming up! Do you have a go-to pickling recipe for your ‘cukes?
Nicolas: I usually make a simple refrigerator pickle and always try different things with it.
Here Nicolas is with some of the cucumber's he'll be harvesting for our Crispy Chicken Katsu meal kit! They're in a smashed cucumber salad that you'll make on the side. Order the meal kit by Thursday 9/16.