Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Voice of a farmer: Meet Jerry of Sweetwater Farm

I asked my friend Jerry to give a farmer's perspective on the Richmond food system, and here is his introductory post:
It all started innocently enough, with Erin asking me to contribute something for the blog from time to time. Of course I agreed...then she suggested I introduce myself.
Oh dear.
Remember when we were kids, and the teacher would start off the year by having you say your name and a little bit about yourself? Am I the only person whose mind immediately went blank at that moment??? I mean, I'll tell you anything (just about), but what would you like to know?
Soooooo....what to say....Hi. I'm Jerry Veneziano, and like most people, I play many roles in this life. The most important being Husband to Heather, and Dad to Morgan (aka The Wee Pirate). I'm also a blacksmith, sculptor, student and (the reason I'm here) farmer. Heather and I own and operate Sweetwater Farm, LLC, a small mixed vegetable and herb farm in the megalopolis of Apple Grove (Louisa county). Sweetwater sits on just over 6 acres, with just under 3 either currently in or soon to be under cultivation. We're still getting started at this, and learning as we go. Even though growing isn't new to us (I've been working in family gardens since I was 3; Beloved is professional horticulturist), growing for market does seem to have a few twists of its own. And as exhausting and frustrating as it can be at times, I'm loving it.
One of the crops I tend to focus on here at the farm are peppers, sweet and hot. The sweet ones sell better, but the hot ones are just so fun! Yes, we're the ones who provided young Ms. Wright with the Ghost pepper (bhut jolokia): unlike her, I've actually tried it. It's not that bad! My day job coworker, Dave, used a Sweetwater Ghost in a batch of chili; while you definitely can't miss the heat, it wasn't overwhelming or even painful. The key, as in so many things, seems to be moderation. He only used about a third of the pepper. Don't be afraid, it is a friendly Ghost!
Anyway, nice to meet you, and I'm looking forward to talking with you some more!

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