Growing local at True Love Farm

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SHAFTSBURY -- In the age of globalization, it is often very difficult to find out exactly where the things you buy come from. However, one Shaftsbury farm is striving to make sure organic, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and flowers don't become a thing of the past.

Karen and Steven Trubitt, of True Love Farm, have, for the last decade, run an increasingly diversified operation. "We grow more than 100 varieties of vegetables, fruits, and flowers," said Karen Trubitt in an interview, in addition to housing a flock of chickens. Trubitt also stressed the farm's commitment to sustainability and to the organic farming movement, noting that, "We don't use any of those synthetic pesticides or herbicides."

The Trubitts don't run a farmstand off of their property, but they can be found frequently at the Bennington, Dorset, and Manchester farmers' markets. However, a portion of their business also comes from selling their products wholesale. "As we began growing more flowers," said Trubitt, "we became aware that there were wholesale opportunities out there. I found myself really intrigued." Currently half an acre of their four acre farm is devoted to flowers, and they provide those flowers to Tuscan Sunflower and Flowerworks in Bennington and Wildflowers Florist in Manchester, and provide produce to a handful of area restaurants.

"We did not move here with the intention of starting an organic farm," said Trubitt, who said that she and her husband had instead hoped to turn their land into an artists' retreat. After spending some time on the property, however, their plans changed. "We felt like land like that is truly a resource, and it should be kept in agricultural use," she said.

Trubitt said that their farm's "small is beautiful" model is a large part of what allows them to produce such high quality products. "People are often overwhelmed by the difference between fresh picked produce and the stuff you can buy in a grocery store," she said. Besides Trubitt and her husband, True Love Farm only has one other employee, but they are able to put a good deal of attention into their crops. "We can always spot when crops are reaching their peak freshness," said Trubitt, "At larger farms, everything is more scheduled."

Trubitt noted that there were numerous advantages to buying locally grown produce, besides simply helping the local economy. About one-fourth of the pesticides used in the world go towards cut flower production, she said, and many pesticides that are banned in the U.S. are used overseas, with the resulting flowers then shipped to America and sold. Trubitt said the farm uses a variety of techniques to keep weeds and bugs away from their crops without having to resort to synthetic chemicals.

While True Love Farm is not yet certified organic (they use a bio-plastic plant cover that has been approved for organic farms in Europe and some parts of the U.S., but not yet in New England), Trubitt said, "we are hugely sympathetic to the organic movement."

Lynn Frost, of Tuscan Sunflower, described her partnership with True Love Farm as "a group of local businesses working together to help each other and provide a fabulous product that is organic, produced here, and beautiful."

Derek Carson can be reached at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB


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