Mister Organic




When Larry Pletcher and his wife Carol moved to N.H., they settled in rural Warner and started a farm that was soon certified organic. That was back in 1988 when organic was cool only to a select few, a "hard sell," as Pletcher puts it. Today the farm, Vegetable Ranch, spans 16 acres in Warner, Concord and Boscawen. It's one of the state's largest certified organic farms in terms of vegetable production.Vegetable Ranch is one of the original farms that formed Local Harvest CSAs and now participates in Kearsarge Mountain CSA and operates the Concord Area Winter CSA. Its produce can also be found at the Concord Farmers Market and other outlets.Pletcher says he can't imagine doing anything else, though there are those days when he could see "loafing in a sidewalk café in Paris."Did you eat all your vegetables as a kid? No way. My dirty little secret is that I still don't really like spinach. Give me kale any day.You were a lawyer once - how did you come to be a farmer? Through several detours. I grew up in northern New Jersey where we had 4-H beef cattle and a large garden. In New Hampshire I always planted a garden for my family. It's an activity from which I just naturally take great satisfaction.Is it true your crops are 100 percent organic? True. And we don't sell any vegetable that we don't grow.You've been farming organically for 20 years - that was pretty rare back then, wasn't it? Rare, and organic produce was a hard sell. Now our biggest problem is trying to keep up with demand.Why is organic better? No neuro-toxins, no carcinogens, no persistent toxic chemicals. Organic produce is more nutritious, tastes better and is produced sustainably.Is it more expensive? Not in the long run. Organic farming is all about improving your soil A fertile, well-managed organic farm will produce vegetables year after year without the need for chemical fertilizers or expensive herbicides.What do you do for veggies in the winter when fresh isn't available? Who says fresh isn't available in the winter? We have five high tunnels where we can produce fresh greens in all seasons. In winter we run a CSA every other week. Our members get two fresh items every pickup along with beets, carrots, onions, potatoes and other storage crops.Would you eat a plastic-looking winter supermarket tomato if you were starving? I was a lawyer in my earlier days so I take the 5th.Do people still do root cellars? They do and it's easy. We have an old house with a stone foundation. Before our new storage building, that basement made a great root cellar.Any advice for excess zucchini? Feed them to the pigs.
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