Denise and Brian Andersen started farming in 1984, just four years out of college. Both had farming backgrounds, claiming it was “in their blood” from the start. Since then, they’ve raised two daughters, who now farm alongside them, and operate a 100% organic farm in the Columbia Basin, near Othello, Washington. Their efforts have hugely impacted our region as they’ve blazed new frontiers of organic farming in the Pacific Northwest.
Andersen Organics’ healthier, better-tasting produce starts with the soil they grow on. Months before planting, they apply composted manure to begin the enrichment process. Additionally, they use drip irrigation systems to deliver nutrients directly to the plants’ roots without the risk of runoff or evaporation. Embracing these methods involves retrieving and recycling their own water, which can be an intensive process, but one they feel is worth it when, as Brian puts it, “your farming partner is Mother Nature.”
Another regenerative farming technique they make use of is planting cover crops, like vetch, wheat, and triticale rye to renew their soil’s organic matter and biodiversity. The root systems of these cover crops introduce nitrogen—a healthy infusion that lets crops flourish! Rotating their crops is another piece of the equation as it helps eliminate valuable nutrients and microbes from being stripped from the soil. Great Northern Beans—yet another nitrogen-producer—encourage leafy growth in the soil, and have been rotated into the cycle as well for this reason.
The Andersens have also welcomed cover crops as an important component in balancing our ecosystem with creatures big and small. From ladybugs to spiders, bees to butterflies: these small insects and microbes play an important part in pollinating and reducing pest disease. As for larger animals, the farm has recently brought cattle and sheep onto the land to graze. Not only does this contribute to healthier diets for the animals, it replaces tractor tilling, decreases methane levels (grazing cattle don’t produce nearly as much as grain-fed cows), and improves the soil microbiome.
Andersen Organics continues to experiment with regenerative farming techniques (even running no-till trials for their onions, which could be a game-changer). Their hard work shows up in their seasonal selection of organic onions, asparagus, potatoes, watermelons, squash, pumpkins, and so more.
We’re proud to partner with Andersen Organics and we hope you enjoy the wealth of fresh flavors from this stunning Pacific Northwest farm.