March 26, 2012 by speckledroman
Todd Lister’s farm is kind of like an oasis nestled between fields with shiny new chicken houses. Unlike his neighbors, Todd has problems with the ways of modern agriculture and the way we eat. At almost 60 years old, he changed his occupation and started Veribest Farms (located on Veribest Rd). His only regret is that he didn’t do this years ago. His passion for his work is clearly seen in his demeanor and the character of his farm. The 1-acre plot is tightly packed with vegetables and ornate blooms. It’s almost hard to walk around without stepping on the plant beds.
Soil is a huge source of pride amongst farmers. The best way to get a farmer riled up would be to call it dirt. Todd works hard to develop his soil quality. Once a week, he picks up the leftover and damaged produce from an Athens grocery store. He takes it all as organic matter to add to his compost. The nutrient rich composted product is spread throughout his beds. In the winter, cover crops like clover, are planted in the beds to add nutrients back into the soil. Come summer, they are removed and the beds are ready for planting without cranking a tiller.
It’s only late March and his tomato plants are already waist high. Following the advice of a fellow farmer, Todd started a new method of tomato planting two years ago. He digs a hole in the soil about a foot deep. He adds straight up compost and then buries his tomato seedlings up to the 3rd or so set of leaves. He pointed to a hole in the ceiling of a hoop house, about 10 feet up. Last year Todd’s sun gold tomatoes had gotten so big they climbed out through the hole.
I’d say the compost planting method is working. The true test will be to try them. Starting in April, the Bishop Park Farmers Market will open for the season. There you’ll find Todd, with his prolific tomatoes and other bountiful crops. Check them out and see what you think or visit the farm to learn more.