When hurricane Katrina struck southern Louisiana, in 2005, it knocked down a bunch of trees on the Covington, Louisiana, property where John Bartlett grew up. And it gave him the idea that he could turn his organic-garden hobby into a much bigger operation, on his own land. The former agriculture student, who’d been turned off by the school’s focus on big agri-business, took to planting pesticide-free lettuces and peppers, eggplant and okra, Asian greens, and all kinds of squash, which now number more than 40 varieties. He got a flock of chickens and raised them free-range, for eggs as well as meat, and he called his farm The Garden. And then he started a community-supported agriculture membership.
John’s mother, Nancy, who had always been an avid flower gardener, joined in her son’s venture and launched expanded cutting gardens; her Blue Stem Flowers business now offers her blooms for sale at farmers’ markets, and she has several restaurant clients as well.
When they’re not working the land or farmers’ markets, John and Nancy have hosted farm dinners sponsored by the likes of Outstanding in the Field. And, like all farmers, they persevere through good seasons and bad. One of John’s May Facebook posts gives you a glimpse:
“You know you’ve had too much rain when there are minnows swimming around the puddles in the pasture. Don’t worry, we broke out the scuba gear and pulled out some vegetables in time for the Covington market tomorrow. We’ll be there rain or shine with a full table.”