Usually when I visit a farm I expect to see things growing. My recent visit to Estella Farms was more about the future growth of the farm itself. Local businessman John Crow has land in Deer Park that is ready to become a multi-use agricultural park. He is starting off by repairing the 100 year old dam that once powered a lumber mill. Surrounding the lake that will reform is a wetlands buffer that will surround 60 acres that is to be divided between a number of 40 by 100 foot greenhouses, orchards, and livestock area for his hair sheep and heritage Irish hogs. At one point in the tour he even mentioned a distillery to manufacture lavender extract.
John invited us out because at this point every idea is on the table including leasing greenhouses to restaurants so they can grow produce for themselves 12 months of the year. It is hard to say whether these ideas will work for a restaurant like ours but I have learned that regardless of the opportunity, showing up is the first step to getting involved. As a bonus I got to learn an interesting bit of local agricultural lore. From 1914 through the 1920’s the land had an apple orchard that was divided into 10 acre plots. Each 10 acre plot was sold to individual investors who would get whatever profits those trees yielded. The investment turned out to be a bust but it makes me think about a simpler time when people would invest in the growing of apples. Regardless of the outcome it makes more sense to me than putting money into Facebook stock.