Farm to School Farmer Spotlight

Steve Whiteman of Trillium Farm, Farmer of the Month – March 2014

Students at Wilbanks Middle School will enjoy a taste of micro-greens thanks to Trillium Farm’s partnership with the Habersham County Schools Farm to School program.  Steve Whiteman of Trillium Farm, a small farm located in Clarkesville, is the Farmer of the Month for March.tril

 

So just what are micro-greens? “They are far tinier than baby greens. Think of the first threadlike shoot that rises when you plant a seed, and the first tiny leaves.  You may have seen a few scattered on your plate or garnishing your food at fine restaurants,” explains farmer Steve Whiteman.  Trillium Farm produces their micro-green crop in 8 to 21 days.

Micro-greens are very tender, packed with intense flavor and filled with healthy nutrients – and contain scarcely a calorie.  Researchers have found that they contain higher levels of concentrated active compounds such as antioxidants than in mature plants or seeds.  Micro-greens are in the group of what are newly referred to as “functional foods”, foods that have particular health promoting or disease preventing properties in addition to their normal nutritional values.  “We grow nutrient dense foods, such as a wide variety of micro-greens, which have 4 to 6 times the nutrition as the same leaves when they grow larger” explains Steve.

 

Every morning, farmer Steve wakes up and asks himself the question:  “How can we recover from heavy chemical usage, avoid the coming of industrial organic farming and have fun doing it?”  At Trillium Farm he uses specific farm practices in response to his question.  “Innovation is how we approach most farming challenges” explains Steve.  “I am not by training or tradition a farmer, but I bring a lifetime of work and study experiences to the challenge of organic growing.”  Steve has developed and uses season extensions such as fence line and mobile cold frames, hoop houses, greenhouses, and cob furnaces.  He also uses indoor growing systems in response to heat, cold and insects in an effort to maximize the best use of time, money, and market opportunities.

Steve’s motto is “Innovating is fun!.  “Kids are real improvisers and naturally want to find new uses for whatever is handy.  So should small scale organic growers!” says Steve.  “Some adults may see Trillium Farm operations a bit intimidating but kids never do.  Usually they just ask, “What next?” For adults I point out that only 1 in 10 of our ‘experiments’ is a home run.  We just never stop trying new ideas.”

Trillium Farm is open to the public each year during the Georgia Mountains Farm Tour.  It is also open for small group tours with a donation to the “Free Fruit For Kids!“ program.  The “Free Fruit For Kids” program is where Trillium Farm provides free fruit to area churches, which is then incorporated into ‘food boxes’ distributed to families in the community.

You can purchase Steve’s Famous (micro-green) Salad Mix at Holland Produce in Clarkesville or contact Trillium Farm directly.  The farm also grows and sells other traditional farm crops such as English cucumbers, specialty tomatoes and Heirloom Stingless Green Beans at the Clarkesville Farmers Market every Saturday from 9 AM to noon, May through October.  Farmer Whiteman can be contacted at stevesmicrogreens@gmail.com.

Farmer of the Month, a Farm to School program sponsored by Northeast Georgia Food Bank and Georgia Organics, applauds the local farmers who are growing fresh nutritious produce for students.  Nicole Trunk, Farm to School Nutrition Coordinator for Habersham County Schools, says, “Our goal is to help students understand how their food travels from the farm to their finger tips.  We strive to honor and celebrate local farmers and connect children with the people at the front line of their food supply.  We hope that the students will encourage their families to take them to the farmers’ market, seek out the Farmers of the Month, and purchase fruits and vegetables during the peak of their season.”   For more information about the Habersham Farm to School program contact Nicole Trunk ntrunk@habershamschools.com or 706.754.2110.

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