We started growing garlic four years ago with only a dozen garlic bulbs. We are very organic minded but are not USDA certified organic at this time. In the summer of 2009, we began to sell our garlic commercially at our local farmers market and to retail customers generating $186 in sales. Most of the 2009 harvest was kept for our fall plantings.
Our original garlic cultivar was an old-world Russian (porcelain hardneck) grown in Potter County for many generations. Based on our study of the hundreds of sub-varieties (separate cultivars) of garlic grown all over the world, our garlic seemed to us to most closely match the “Leningrad” garlic. We call it “Vkoos Odena” which roughly translates to “Taste of Odin”.
In the fall of 2009, we added three new cultivars that were acquired from two established regional growers: Music (a porcelain hardneck), Chesnok Red (a purple stripe hardneck) and Purple Italian (a rocambole hardneck). A fourth new garlic cultivar was also added to the 2009 fall plantings. This “Ohman Red” is another local heritage garlic from the neighboring McKean County. “Ohman Red” has similar characteristics to the common “German Red” rocambole but was said to have originated in Italy and therefore is also very similar to our Purple Italian cultivar.
For the fall 2009 garlic plantings, we had over 5000 bulbs growing in our 3000 square-foot home garden with an expected yield of over 500 pounds (the actual yield come in at 596 pounds).
These garlic cultivars have rich, warm flavors, ease of preparation and are great for sauteing, roasting and baking. Our promotions also emphasize the healthy benefits of our garlic. Scientific studies have cautiously indicated that garlic, a bulb that contains more than 200 different chemical compounds, may help counter many diseases, including cancer and heart problems. Furthermore, we feel that there is an increasing consumer preference toward organically grow crops produced on the environmentally friendly farm.
In summary, we decided to grow a health-oriented specialty crop using only organic production practices while being mindful of the need to maintain the soil’s health and protect the water’s quality. We want to make a reasonable profit while also doing something with our farm that will contribute to the community. Hopefully, we will profitable cultivate our heritage garlic for future generations to enjoy.