Farmer Tom Zimmerman has been selling to the Co-op since the 1970’s when the Co-op was new and Tom was new to farming. As a 13 year old boy in 1976, Zimmerman moved with his family from Gearhart to the farm they own today in Gray’s River, Washington. When he was finishing up his studies at Clatsop Community College, Zimmerman decided he wanted a career in his family trade.
“I’ve always liked growing plants,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman’s roots in farming sets him apart from some of the other small farmers we work with in the area. Another key difference is that the farm is certified organic. Many small farmers use organic practices, but find it difficult to make certification pencil out. Zimmerman says organic certification hasn’t been too hard; it does cost him, but the USDA chips in, typically paying about half of the fees, thanks to a farm bill.
Even for someone as experienced as Zimmerman, farming is always a challenge, for a variety of reasons including working with dynamic natural elements. That’s why a key to Zimmerman’s success is diversity of crops, which he calls a common sense approach to crop insurance.
“The most challenging part of the job; the weather, especially lots of rain, but it’s been pretty nice this year,” Zimmerman said.
Another challenge for smaller farmers is finding a place to sell their products. Zimmerman says there’s more competition with organic farms, and less of a market than some places in the country, but value added food processing such as Oregon Brineworks (in Hood River, OR) which he sells direct to helps.
Zimmerman says dry weather in California could impact and actually improve the market for local farmers.
“The farmers in California aren’t shipping cheap produce anymore,” Zimmerman said.
He does all his own distributing and knows all his customers.
“Growing good food for people that’s what the most rewarding part is, I’d probably be happiest if I didn’t have to deal with the money, but that’s not how we live our lives,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman grows all kinds of row crops, such as fabulous kale and other greens, celery, peppers, and strawberries. Look for Glory B (Zimmerman’s) veggies, berries, and honey at the Co-op.