Riehm Farms is to host an Innovative Farmers of Ohio tour 2-4 p.m. Saturday for people interested in learning about extending the growing season for vegetables and other innovative projects John Riehm has under way.
The tour is part of a series of family-friendly tours this summer planned by the organization, featuring entrepreneurial farmers who are using sustainable production methods and a variety of marketing techniques to deliver products to neighboring consumers.
On his 300-acre farm, Riehm grows vegetables for the on-farm market, six farmers markets, a community-assisted agriculture program with more than 100 members, and several small grocery stores.
"I was on the board for three years, and they asked if they could do a tour here at the farm because of all the innovative things that I do," said Riehm, who leads the farm's innovation.
He said the tour mainly will include information about season extension.
"The goal is to pick tomatoes at the end of May or first of June, two months ahead of field tomatoes," he said. "Those come out in about the middle of July."
The extensions also include such vegetables as peppers, lettuce and kohlrabi.
"We try to extend just about every crop there is and find different ways we can push it," he said.
One of those methods includes using plastic "tunnels."
"We do low hoops using PVC pipe," he said. "Sometimes people use wire and put the plastic over it."
The plastic provides frost protection.
"I can plant those two weeks earlier because I don't have to worry about frost," he said.
Riehm said they picked strawberries May 10, which is two or three weeks before most strawberries are ready.
Greenhouses are another method of extending the season.
The farm just finished erecting its fourth greenhouse, which is 30 feet by 96 feet.
Inside, he can plant lettuce varieties early, as well as broccoli, cucumbers, melons and other fruits and vegetables.
Riehm said anybody interested in growing vegetables or operate farm markets are welcome to attend, as well as people who want to learn more about gardening.
"You can use the same system in your back yard or in your garden," he said. "Instead of waiting until the middle of May you can plant them early."
He said people interested in learning about nutritious food also should attend.
"We might even have a few chefs," he said.
Reihm plans to take a tour of the fields where cherry tomato plants are already setting fruit.
"In a couple weeks, they'll be ripe," he said.
He also plan to preview the farm's fall entertainment schedule, including a "Little Rascals" themed corn maze.
The tour is free and no reservations are required.
The farm is at 7244 N. SR 53. Contact Riehm at (419) 992-4392 or visit www.funacres.net.
A complete list of tours can be found at www.ifoh.org.
For more information on the tour, contact Mary Holmes, (440) 423-0859.