INMAN — Though only four acres in size, Tin Bucket Farms plans to feed dozens of families.
Owners Troy and Kayla Koehn have been farming for three years, and for the past two years, they’ve shared their farm with the Inman and McPherson communities.
"We are a community supported agriculture, CSA, and that’s when a customer buys into the farm with shares. Our shares will start in the middle of May and each customer will get a bag of produce each week for 16 weeks with whatever is in season," Kayla Koehn explained.
McPherson County is no stranger to CSA farms.
Fly Away Farms USA also provides the same services. Fly Away Farms USA provides 14 weeks of fresh produce starting the week of May 6 for $28 per week.
The Koehns hope to fill shares by the end of February to stay on target, but noted they won’t turn anyone down after that time. A half share feeds one to three people and costs $250, a full share feeds four to six people and costs $425.
The Koehns offer a personal touch to their farm to fully engage the community.
"We really enjoy getting to know the customer. They can come out to the farm whenever. If they don't want to pick up their share at market, they can come out to the farm," Kayla Koehn said.
Those who participate in the shares can see any type of vegetable imaginable that can be grown in Kansas — lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, fresh sweet corn, even garlic.
"Garlic grows fairly well through it does take a knack for it. It needs to be planted in the fall, and right now, it’s covered in straw. As soon as the ground thaws and warms up, we'll uncover the straw and it will be ready by mid-summer. The plant gets to be about two to three feet tall and kind of looks like onions," Kayla Koehn explained.
While the couple’s location is in Kansas, their seeds sprout from all corners of the United States.
"We get our seeds from Maine, Washington and Vermont, and our onions come from south Texas by Mexico," Kayla Koen said.
Many different vegetables are grown in their one-acre garden, which means rotation is an important technique used to keep plants healthy.
"We try to rotate our crop. We don't plant tomatoes where they were last year and we keep two to three years in between. Then we just fill in the rest with greens, carrots and root crops in the spaces that are empty," Troy Koehn explained.
"Nothing goes in the same spot two years in a row," Kayla Koehn said.
Being new to the farming industry didn’t stop the couple from starting their own farm three years ago.
"We both enjoyed gardening tremendously and we both helped our moms garden before we got married. Now we have two little girls that help out in the garden with us quite a bit. We both had a passion for it and decided to take off and try it," Kayla Koehn said.
Learning the ways of the farming industry has been quite the task.However, they took the challenge head-on and expanded their knowledge of the business.
"We have read a lot. Our hero is from Indiana and we've been on his farm,” Kayla Koehn said. “This fall we were in Tennessee for three days at a growing convention and we just kind of learned from all over — lots of reading and different Facebook groups.”
Winter does not mean rest for this couple. With cold months in full swing, the Koehns are still working hard to get ready for the upcoming spring and summer months.
"We start all our own seeds in our basement and then they get transferred into our greenhouse. In the winter, it’s the warmest place and we have heating mats and shelves down there in our cellar. They're on the heat mats for a week or so, then three or four weeks under the light, then they go out to the greenhouse to get hardened off to get used to the sun," Kayla Kohen said.
Planting in the winter months takes time and exact scheduling to make sure produce is ready by May when the shares begin.
"We are already growing lettuce, and then tomatoes will start at the end of the month and peppers at the end of February. Our schedule is intense from now until the end of March. Somethings need to be in a basement for eight weeks, somethings only for two — you have to have it all scheduled out," Kayla Koehn said.
The Koehns are big believers of using non-GMO and organic products at their farm, along with no use of chemicals. They believe these practices, in turn, will produce a better and healthier crop.
"We grow as organic as we can. We don't use pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers," Kayla Koehn said.
Not using traditional fertilizer may come with benefits, but it also has its downfalls to combat weeds and insects.
"We do a lot of hand weeding with hoes," Troy Koehn said. "This year, we're also going to lay black plastic down for two weeks before we plant. It warms the soil to sprout the seed then the absence of light kills the weeds off."
With the absence of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, the Koehns have creative solutions for fertilizing their ground — composting.
"We use food and animal manures and we will probably end up buying from a local source this year," Troy Koehn said.
To place a share with the Koehns, call Kayla at 620-654-8488 or Troy at 620-755-2081 or email them at email@example.com or visit their Facebook page.
To place an order with Fly Away Farm, call 620-755-4280.
Contact Brooke Haas by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.