Monday, April 11, 2011

Fruit and/or Vegetables!

We 've never been serious about growing vegetables!

Thiessen Farms has always been about the fruit - cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums and pears.

We have always grown some vegetables though...

- Growing up, my brother, sister & I grew potatoes for a few summers, together sharing the work & the profits.
- My parents always planted plenty of sweet corn so there would be enough for our stomachs and the freezer and our cousins as well.
- For a few years we were big into field tomatoes growing thousands of plants each summer.
- And of course we have always had a vegetable garden for our own use.

All these vegetables were grown in the orchard between the rows of newly planted fruit trees - something we still do. This picture shows garlic growing between young plum trees in 2010.

The number of new trees determined how many vegetables we had room for. Real fruit growers would never, ever consider taking prime tender fruit land out of fruit production to raise vegetables!

Things change...

When we left the wholesale world and began retailing our fruit at farmers' markets, we realized our focus had to shift from growing as much fruit as we possibly could, to growing only as much fruit as we could sell. It took quite a few years to reach that point. We ended up downsizing our farm, removing orchards and ... growing more vegetables.

But not seriously!

We added a few tomatoes to make our display at market more colourful, a few zucchini because they were quick & easy to grow and sell, some winter squash to put alongside the pears in fall to keep the tables full, and might as well take our extra pickling cucumbers to market rather than tossing them to the chickens. And so it went ...

A local winery restaurant was also buying our fruit. They asked if we would have some vegetables for them as well? Things they were having difficulty sourcing - maybe some snow peas, pac choi ... 
Anything that grew easily, sold well and could fit in with our fruit harvest was attempted. If it worked out - great, if not we tried something else.
We started to use more land for vegetables. When we removed old orchards we used the land to grow vegetables for a few years, rather than replant to fruit trees immediately.
Nowadays vegetables are an important part of our farm, bringing in a significant portion of our income. We grow them for market, the restaurant and our CSA - more than 30 different vegetables in total.

Our lineup for 2011 includes - 93 varieties of tomatoes, 29 kinds of hot peppers, 23 eggplants, 22 different winter squashes along with 8 kinds of pumpkins. We plan to grow more than 50 kinds of lettuces & assorted greens, 19 beans, 15 carrots, 11 beets, 9 zucchinis and many, many more ...

I guess it's fair to say that now, Thiessen Farms is not just about the fruit.

But are we serious about growing vegetables ...
... or just seriously crazy?


  1. only 93 tomato varieties!
    Which did you decide not to grow this year?
    i hope you still have the bloody butcher!

  2. Yes, still growing bloody butcher - only for the name!