It’s not really a farm. It’s a quarter acre lot in the middle of Florence, on the coast, with lots of wind and sandy soil. A quiet neighborhood. Nothing special. And you can’t grow tomatoes there, so they say. But don’t tell John and Joyce Rennie that – because they are knocking it dead with a gazillion yellow and red cherry tomatoes that have been available at the Community Table for the past month!
J & J Farm is the result of a husband and wife team of seasoned farmers and gardeners.
“Three years ago, I moved from Redmond, Oregon here to Florence to be on the coast. I was raised on a farm in Hillsboro Oregon and we had three acres of tomatoes growing all the time – not to mention all the chickens and other stuff we grew on our large commercial farm.” John Rennie explains his love for growing things and continuing to farm. “ It’s in my blood and we’re getting old so it gives us something fun to do everyday!”
Both John and Joyce enjoy watching their plants flourish in the 8 hours of sunshine they get every day in their backyard plot. They have 45 cherry tomato plants, 8 pepper plants and 15 cucumber plants. Some plants are started from seed (John plants his cucumber seeds directly in the soil every year – just so he doesn’t disturb the roots when transplanting) and most come as starts from local stores. He swears that the heat is what keeps things growing so well.
“You have to have heat. We don’t have greenhouses, we just make sure the plants get lots of sunshine and are spaced out properly – everything needs lots of room and lots of sun.”
They also have some other tips for those of you who are still challenged with growing tomatoes here along the coast. Here is their list of must haves:
- Chicken manure – Since John grew up on a large chicken farm, that is his “go-to” nitrogen fertilizer. But add it early in the season so as to not burn the plants.
- 5, 10, 10 fertilizer throughout the season, especially for tomatoes and peppers – every two weeks.
- Lots of water, drip if possible, and always check your plants to make sure their soil stays moist.
- For tomatoes, pick off all the suckers as they grow, Too much leafy growth can be detrimental to fruit production.
- Stake your tomatoes so they have a solid foundation as they grow.
- Be patient – the bounty will come . . .
“I like to live by my grand-dad Tom’s philosophy, If you can’t eat it, don’t grow it – so that’s why I love to provide fresh produce for the Community Table at the Florence Farmers Market.”
At the Community Table you can find crisp cucumbers, delicious hand picked yellow and red cherry tomatoes and all types of peppers. So stop by the booth and pick up some super fresh, super local produce from J & J Farm and know that a lot of patience and sunshine went into every delicious tomato, pepper and cucumber.
The Community Table is a special Florence Farmers Market program partially funded by Lane County Economic Development Department. It is an opportunity for local small scale farmers and gardeners to share their bounty with the community and fellow foodies. It provides the vendors a low risk, cost effective way to sell their extra products and provide product diversity at the local weekly farmers market. For more information, visit our website.
Do you need some recipe inspiration for this delicious produce?
Here’s a start:
Cherry Tomato Pasta – Easy, Fast and Delicious
Did somebody say gazpacho?
This could be your best Summer Salad ever!
Article written by Britte Kirsch, edited by Abby DuBois