Thursday, March 28, 2013

Birds of a Feather

Bird's Haven Farms

The arrival of spring to Central Ohio has been like a laggard snail creeping out of a distant forest. Just as I was beginning to lose hope of seeing shades of green appearing any time soon, I was fortunate to meet Bryn, the youngest member of the Bird family of Bird’s Haven Farms, amidst one of their greenhouses bursting with life. Off a gravel paved road northeast of Columbus, Bryn was kind enough to share with me their story and how her father created a haven for her family to flock to.

Although Tom Bird was originally from Westerville, he met his wife Ann over a thousand miles from Columbus during his collegiate days at Colorado State. After graduating, the couple decided to reside in the “Centennial State,” married, had two children, and then eighteen years later added son Lee followed by daughter Bryn to their brood. When Lee was only nine years old he purchased a tractor. This might be typical for the son of Midwest farmer, but it was highly unusual for the son of a veterinarian living in urban Colorado. Bryn explained how from birth, farming was deep in her brother’s soul and whether he realized it or not at the time, something was drawing him to explore his father’s ancestral roots. After Tom celebrated his 50th birthday, he sold his veterinary practice, purchased 110 acres and moved his family to the middle of rural Ohio. The family jokes that Tom and Ann obtained the land for Lee, given his innate love for farming, but I was soon to find out that this farm is a complete family affair.

As Bryn relayed to me the statistics of Bird’s Haven Farms, I was impressed with the vastness of their property and the much-more-than-a-monoculture farm they have become. She laughed as she told me that while growing up in Granville she and Lee would lie about how much land they owned because compared to their neighbors, 110 acres was a minute amount. She went on to describe that in the beginning they did what typical Ohio farmers do and grew corn and soybeans. Things on the farm changed after her brother graduated from The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute and took over running the farm. Lee dreamed of expanding beyond the traditional commodity crops and nearly eight years ago they completely switched over to growing a vast variety of vegetables, focusing on early season tomatoes. One thing that hasn’t changed on the farm is the offering of farm fresh eggs. Currently, Ann cares for 150+ Rhode Island Red hens and hand washes each and every egg they lay. Because she is a city girl at heart, she lets her hens go into retirement (something not typically done with laying hens). The “old ladies” as the Bird’s affectionately dubbed them, are allowed to roam the high tunnels to eat the weeds and fertilize just as the younger hens do. Over the years, Ann has even picked up a nickname of her own; the Granville Egg Lady delivers her product door-to-door for a select local group of lucky customers. Bryn told me how her Mom and Dad are still very much involved on the farm. Besides the eggs, Ann helps with the business side of things and Tom has the pleasure of selecting the menagerie of seeds they will grow (this year is over 65 different crops). Bryn continued on, telling me how a cousin comes in March to assist with all the seeding and an Aunt helps out by making the hanging flower baskets. Bryn, who just recently moved back to Ohio, has a day job as an advocate for farm worker right issues through federal policy reform, but still manages to lend a hand by working the farmers markets and growing the marketing side of their business.

This year marks the 17th season that Bird’s Haven Farms will participate in the Granville farmer’s market. They will also take part in the New Albany, Westerville, and new to this year’s line up the Clintonville market. Besides the markets, they also offer 215 CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) spots with only a few remaining for the 2013 season. If you are avid gardener or just ready to experiment growing your own food, Bird’s Haven is happy to set you up with some of their starter plants. Tom Bird started Bird’s Haven Farms as a place of refuge for his family. Bryn echoed the fact that there is a sense of comfort knowing that if anything would happen, she could “always go back to the farm and the family business”.


The Bird’s Haven Farms eggs (pictured left) traveled 37 miles to Columbus, while the eggs (pictured right) traveled roughly 454 miles to Columbus.


Egg-splained: Free Range, Cage Free and Organic
The Cost of Fracking
Strawberries at Bird’s Haven Farms {Farm Tour}

Italian Easter Bread

If dying your eggs, please use a food safe natural egg dye.

Click on the recipe cards to print your copy:


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