Purple Porch Cooperative

  (South Bend, Indiana)
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Earth Cure Farms - a feature of one of the co-op's many local producers

Earth Cure Farms: It's All About the Soil

Know Your Farmer!
Rob North and Rebecca Bonsib

I remember perfectly when I made my first batch of Earth Cure Farms broccoli. My family sat up straighter and polished off the whole pot in no time flat. I’m not sure if we eyed each other as competitors for the last bite, but I know I thought about it, even though I’m supposed to share freely with my children. I asked Rob North about it. Was it a special kind of broccoli? What made it taste like that?

He described the way he cares for the soil, drawing on his three decades of experience in farming and gardening, and a good deal of experimenting: he uses a supplement that remineralizes the soil—putting back in trace minerals—from sea minerals (Sea 90: www.Seaagri.com) and a microbial mix (Tainio Technology products: www.Tainio.com) that restores soil life.

At Earth Cure Farms, where Rob and his wife Rebecca Bonsib built a geodesic dome house and a straw bale barn (with the help of Marty Fair, of the Fair Bakery) starting in 1999, they have been growing what they now call “chemical-free” produce using techniques that are increasingly drawing interest from consumers. Rob sold his security alarm business in 2001 and has been working to survive just on doing things he likes.

Rob especially appreciates his clients’ enthusiasm for what they do, and the increasing knowledge consumers bring to how food is grown. When he first started growing food in quantity, there were virtually no farm markets and little concern among the public about how food is produced. He began going to farm markets in 2002; the situation is quite a bit better now.

This year was hot, and some of his crops bolted too soon. He is expecting a decent fall crop, though, of broccoli, carrots, and greens (make sure you try his spinach!).

Here is what he thinks people should know about Purple Porch: Customers won’t get anything like this at a grocery store. It is much fresher, and immensely better tasting. Sure, it is important to pay attention to our carbon footprint, to eating locally, to the higher nutrition levels of food grown without chemicals, but if you have tasted his broccoli or spinach, you know that there is something unique about their flavor. Call it “terroir” as people do for wine. It’s all about the soil.

- Susan Blum, Co-op member
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