By JOE HIGGINS Messenger editor May 3, 2015
One word can be used to describe both Green Edge Organic Gardens and its founders, Kip and Becky Rondy. Unique.
The greenhouses are unique in that they are some of the very few that operate year-round. The Rondys are unique in that they not only want their business to flourish but there are no trade secrets; They want people to employ their gardening techniques and do what they do.
Green Edge Organic Gardens offers dozens of products. Pickled ginger, also available at Kroger in Athens, is the May Product of the Month, sponsored by OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital. Product of the Month is a joint feature between The Messenger and Appalachian Center for Economic Networks to help celebrate ACEnet’s 30th anniversary.
“Economic development and access to local, healthy food is critical to well-being,” said Sydney Webber, director of marketing and communication at O’Bleness. “Local, family farms like Green Edge Gardens and the support of ACENet are helping our community be healthier.”
“I can’t tell you how having ACEnet available for local businesses is the difference between the Athens local food community and almost every other local food community in this region. The ability to have that kind of expertise available … It sets Athens apart from everybody,” said Becky Rondy.
The pickled ginger product is grown at the Amesville farm and harvested before the skin and fibers appear. Sliced thin and pickled with simple ingredients, the ginger is tender, crisp and fresh.
Becky and Kip both had separate businesses when they met years ago. The two would merge by the heart and in 2004 in business by taking Green Edge Organic Gardens to new levels. After 10 years, Green Edge thrives with its unique ability to produce garden products year-round.
The Rondys utilize high tunnels to grow through the winter months. The method allows the Rondys to earn a living even in the cold seasons. Literature that the two developed claims that Green Edge can earn between $8,000 and $13,000, depending on the crop, from mid-November to April.
It’s this system that the Rondys swear by and have offered to teach anyone willing to listen. It’s also part of a larger picture that the Rondys hope will continue a local food economy that feeds the local community.
A 35-page booklet goes into immense detail on how to build high tunnels, create sustainable greenhouses, manage soil and cultivate crops. “Season Creation: The Green Edge Model of Winter Growing” is more of a cheat sheet to creating a sustainable garden business.
The Rondys live within their means. They employ more than a handful of people to help farm the crops. Of the 120-acre farm, only a few are used to house 10 greenhouses.
Green Edge’s customers have a unique method of getting their food as well as the business operates a Community Supported Agriculture model.
“It’s a subscription service,” said Becky Rondy. “They pay us up front for vegetables that they will receive over the next 20 weeks.” Green Edge also sells at the Athens Farmers Market, to local restaurants, local groceries and restaurants and cooperatives in Columbus.
The CSA offers fresh, organic produce directly from the farm. Selections are delivered every week and to various area locations. Those enrolled can choose the products they want a la carte. From arugula and basil to eggplant, kale, turnips, squash and everything in between, different shares are available.
To enroll in the CSA, visit www.greenedgegardens.com or call 740-448-4021.