Life on the Farm
Jason and Margaret Parsley started Omache Farm 11 years ago because of their love of fresh food and the natural world. “We wanted to make a living outdoors and from the land,” Jason shared. They farm about 4 acres of vegetables and raise sheep, chickens, goats and sometimes pigs and alpacas, 10 miles to the west-southwest of their residence in Pullman.
Jason works the farm full time during the growing season, providing our community with over 20 types of vegetables and nearly 100 different varieties from late April through late November. Margaret holds a full-time job as a head cook for a local elementary school during the school year, and then works full time on the farm during the summers. The children help on the farm when they are not at school, helping to seed trays, transplant, weed, harvest some produce and work at the Omache Farm booth during the Farmer’s Market.
We asked Jason and Margaret what a typical day on the farm looks like for their family. “Depending on weather and time of year, we try to be at the farm to begin work or harvest between 5 and 8 am. Earliest on harvest mornings in late summer. During the busiest time of year, we camp at the farm a few nights a week so we can have an early start and let our kids sleep in. Lunch is eaten with the whole crew and our family. Every lunch includes a salad of some kind. One of the greatest benefits of the farm is fresh picking right from the field whatever is going into lunch each day. As our kids have gotten older, we try very hard to wrap up farm work and go home earlier in the evening to allow for family time and after school activities for our kids. Finding the balance between finishing all of the farm work and allowing the five of us to have a life off the farm is a constant struggle.” Each Spring Omache Farms plants over 300 trays that contain between 72 and 128 cells each. They are seeding somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 starts then transplanting them in the field.
During their busy harvest season, Jason hires 1-2 part time positions. His favorite crop is squash. He grows a wide variety of colorful summer and winter squash. “I think of them as little (or not so little) balls of sunshine. When we sell someone a winter squash and they take it home, I like to think we gave them a piece of summer they can cut open anytime to get a little bit of the warmth even in the darkest, coldest moments of winter,” says Jason.
Omache Farms strives to meet or exceed organic standards and practices, however they do not go through the certification process. While not certified, they do not use synthetic inputs. “We view the soil as central to our growing techniques.” Jason uses compost and cover crops to enrich the soil. He has gone to a permanent bed system and works to reduce tillage and impact on the soil each year. To address pest issues, Jason shares, “We try to anticipate pest problems and prevent them during our planning; including using trap cropping, companion planting, crop rotation, and selecting for pest and disease resistant varieties.”
We asked how COVID-19 has affected them. Jason stated, “We believe that in this time, fresh and healthy food and supporting local economies is more important than ever. We plan on attending the market with changes to our booth layout to reduce produce handling and account for social distancing for our customers and ourselves. We are working with other local farms to offer an online ordering and delivery outlet for those who do not want to attend the market.” The farm is also expanding the selection of plant starts for the increased number of people who would like to home garden.The Parsley’s farm operation is a success because community members value great tasting food like they do. They depend on the Pullman Farmers Market, the Moscow Farmers Market, Consumer Supported Agriculture shares (CSAs), and local restaurants such as Black Cypress, O-Ramen, Maialina, and Sangria.We invite you to support Omache Farm by signing up for a CSA share or purchasing Market Bucks. You can also visit their booths at the Pullman and Moscow Farmers Markets and be sure to watch their Facebook page for updates on their website to pre-order for pick up at the markets. To find out more contact Jason or Margaret firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pullman Good Food Co-op looks forward to offering Omache Farm’s vegetables, eggs and meat when our doors open!