BECAUSE IT’S IMPORTANT & BECAUSE THE RIVERSIDE FARMERS’ MARKET TOLD YOU TO
Tucked away in the rich black dirt farmland of Marengo is Ready Jam Farms. New to Riverside Farmers’ Market in 2015, Jim of Ready Jam Farms brought a steady supply of locally grown organic vegetables from a farm that started as a over-abundant family garden. Ready Jam is an anagram of some of the letters in the names of Jim, his wife and daughter. A self-taught farmer, Jim began small in 2006 and has cleared additional plots on his ten acres over the years. You might have seen Jim and his oldest daughter, Madison at the market this summer. He and his wife, Cheryl, have three children, ten-year-old Madison, eight year-old Brooke, and two year-old Jackson. The whole family became vegetarian a few years ago and never looked back.
Avoiding chemicals, even those considered organic, Ready Jam uses alternatives such as organic compost and Epsom salts to increase the yield and health of the plants. Despite being a small organic farm, with seven acres under cultivation they are able to feed twenty-nine families through their CSA, attend three farmers’ markets, and sell to restaurants. The CSA will be available for pickup Riverside Farmers’ Market next summer in three sizes.
An old horse barn is now storage and houses a clever walk-in cooler that is chilled using a window air-conditioner using a gadget invented by another farmer that keeps the A/C unit from freezing up. For a small fraction of the cost of a commercial walk-in storage cooler, Ready Jam Farms can store fragile vegetables before bringing them to the market. Genius.
Not everything needs a cooler, pumpkins, potatoes will last all winter.
It’s November and Ready Jam still has food growing. Radishes, chard, kale and lettuce are still coming up.
Spinach has been planted for next year already. Some may be eaten but most will over-winter and be ready for spring picking and hopefully our early June market days.
Spring onions are also coming up and will be on our tables early next summer.
The remnants of the past growing season are a reminder of the gorgeous tomatoes and peppers lined up on Ready Jam Farms table.
Jim is already planning for next year and beyond with hopes of a high tunnel system that will allow him to grow year round. Ready Jam Farms will be back next summer at the Riverside Farmers’ Market. We can’t wait.