Working and living on land owned by their family for more than 60 years, Kevin and Cathy Klug of Klug Orchards & Green Organics are old pros when it comes to growing plants. A third-generation farmer, Kevin was raised in the 1840s homestead he now shares with his wife and three sons. As a child, he’d set up shop at the end of his driveway, selling strawberries picked from his own bushes. Cathy grew up learning organic farming principles from her mother.
After marrying in 1988, Kevin and Cathy started farming full-time, drawing upon their parents’ commitment to limiting their use of chemicals when growing food for the community. But after their young, first-born son became sick and later died, the couple passionately dug into research on the long-term effects of using synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers and decided to return to Cathy’s organic roots. They began using basic organic farming practices in 1996 and earned USDA Organic certification in 2010.
Today, with 40 varieties of organic fruits and vegetables (many more, if you count subspecies) on their 160-acre farm, the Klugs have designed a comprehensive crop-rotation plan that helps increases yields naturally. Kevin lets nature take its own course for pest control: These days, the most “dangerous” pesticide used at Klug Orchards is cayenne pepper!
Eliminating synthetic pesticides on the farm has allowed “good bugs” to thrive, warding off a majority of would-be pests. A stellar farm animal team also help play defense against pests: three shelter-rescued dogs (Sasquatch, Kicker, and Coco Puff), several barn cats, a dozen chickens, and one miniature horse named Wee Man.
Beyond their chemical-free approach, the Klugs are dedicated to growing produce that offers higher nutritional value, which begins with cultivating superior soil. Although naturally sandy, their soil is fertile: Because their land used to be a dairy, it was well-manured. The farmers further amend soil with fish and chicken compost as well as horse manure. Their success is evident from a quick peek at a shovelful or two of overturned soil: Their healthy earthworm population would make many farmers wriggle with envy.
In order to extend availability of local, organic produce in their community, the Krugs have also invested in greenhouses, so they’re able to grow from March through November. Considerable planning goes into their crop mix, even years in advance. For example, they recently planted young peach trees to replace some mature trees that didn’t make it through an abnormally harsh winter. Before doing so, they worked to forecast the optimal mix of peach-tree species to ensure healthy harvests years down the road.
As the Klugs gear up for another busy harvesting season, they feel confident about their family and farm team spending long hours working in the fields. With no worries about pesticide exposure, if someone gets a little hungry, it’s safe to dust off a strawberry or two for a quick snack.
Stop by the Local Shop to find all our locally grown and produced foods!