A fresh vegetable farm outside Morgantown was awarded the West Virginia Conservation Farm of the Year award at an event in Sutton.
The Mountain Harvest Farm is located on the grounds of the Owl Creek Farm on Goshen Road and is operated by Mary Oldham and Chico Ramirez. Oldham and Ramirez rent the ground from the Yoder family and have been in operation and growing for the last 10 years.
As part of the win, Oldham and Ramirez will get a $1,000 cash prize, 200 hours, or three months of use of a John Deere tractor from Middletown Tractor Sales in Fairmont, with the option to purchase at a 10-percent discount.
“We’ve found this community is really supportive of what we’re doing,” Oldham said. “We grow all certified naturally grown vegetables, so that’s using organic practices, and the community has been very supportive.”
The natural process includes rotating crops from year to year to preserve the fertility of the soil, contour farming, no-till farming, and water conservation methods like drip irrigation. When it comes to additives to the process, they all must be natural.
“Fostering a good ecosystem here at the farm,” Oldham said. “We don’t use any synthetic pesticides, and we try to have a lot of pollinator habitat for bees and other pollenating insects that help our crops.”
The Mountain Harvest Farm regularly brings things like fruits and veggies, meats, breads, baked goods, eggs, and honey to the Morgantown Farmers Market and also participates in the Winter Market at Mylan Park on select weekends.
“We’re actually able to do it now and survive on it full-time; our business is growing and we have several employees, and that still seems like a dream,” Oldham said.
The farm now offers a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program where people pay a pre-season fee in exchange for weekly or bi-weekly boxes of vegetables from the farm during the season. Through the website, customers can select what they want, decline what they don’t like, and have access to recipes and cooking ideas.
“We have grown up to 40 different things, and we offer recipes and suggestions of what you can do with the items to get to try new things,” Oldham said.
Oldham wants to serve more people, not just with the CSA program or at a farmers market, but to host them at the farm and share their farming practices.
“Educational tours, school groups, and things like that teach how we farm and what conservation practices we use,” Oldham said. “I think in the future we hope to expand that.”