We interviewed Tom Brown from Meadowlark Farm about his passion for farming in Kansas
"People are deeply delighted by the idea of a fresh peach from Meadowlark Farm"
When is peach season?
At Meadowlark Farm we have about 25 different varieties of peaches starting with early cling in mid June and ending with large freestone varieties in early September. Our main crop of peaches ripens from late July to mid August.
What is your favorite plant to grow and why?
I really like both the apples and the peaches. Peaches have beautiful leaves and fruit and the trees themselves smell good. I love all the varieties and their many distinctions and idiosyncrasies. But peaches readily get damaged or diseased or just broken so there is a sense of transience about them. Apples have interesting, tremendous complexity both in the varieties of fruit and with their rootstocks. There is a greater sense of permanence with an apple tree; though they too are fragile and are not a perfect fit for our prairie ecosystem.
I also really like how most people are so deeply delighted by just the idea of a fresh peach.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your farm system?
Horticulture is all about getting things to grow where they really don’t belong. The only fruit that arguably belongs in our part of the Great Plains is the sand hill plum or perhaps the choke cherry or the naturalized pears or crab apples. But none of those are the peaches or apples that people want. So the entire panoply of stresses of the prairie ecosystem/ continental temperate climate is the biggest challenge to our farm. The wild variability demands expensive contingencies for all extremes. It makes things more expensive to grow than in calmer more predictable climes.
Why do you farm?
I love to grow things. It is hard to go wrong with a fresh peach. And I believe, like this paraphrase of Martin Luther, that,