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Dzejachok is investigating alternative approaches for marketing her organically grown salad greens in central Ohio.

New Land in a New City for a Continuing Farmer

Dzejachok Shares Her Wisdom.

Decide what you want your operation to be known for and then establish and develop your brand. Start small and use the time to become known and to build a reputation for your farm.

Susanna Dzejachok transformed her urban property in Cleveland from a vacant single family home to a mini farm from which she sells salad greens, lettuce, turnips, sprouts and more at several local farmers markets and FreshFork, an online farmers market featuring home delivery. Farming her front yard has proven to be an effective marketing tool, fostering interaction with numerous interested neighbors and passersby as well as the staff of a nearby restaurant. She plans to add chickens, now allowed by the city.

The profile below reflects 2008 when she was working on a non-profit farm in central Ohio, intending to buy land on which to farm. Failing to find affordable agricultural land in central Ohio, Susanna returned to northern Ohio focused and prepared to start a new farming venture based on her market research and experience. She feels confident that she understands what it will really take to market her products – quality, consistency and a desirable product mix.

In 2008, to increase the sustainability of opportunities to farm, Susanna made several significant changes that result from her participation in Wisdom in the Land.

Resources. The central Ohio land Susanna currently rents presented many challenges this year. Tremendous weed pressure resulted from opening the soil for the first time, which she addressed by preventing the weeds from seeding. She also maintained the riparian buffer on the property to avoid soil erosion. Unfortunately, the poorly drained soil combined with an extreme weather event of five inches of rain over a spring weekend resulted in the failure of the first crop. Susanna redirected her efforts to construct and grow on raised beds.

In preparation for adding chickens to the land, Susanna repaired an existing century-old chicken coop and installed an electric fence. She would like to add a fence around her garden area as well, to thwart the abundant wildlife, but is unable to afford the fence at this time. The chickens provide welcome manure to add to the compost Susanna makes in a Compost Tumbler.

Many years of production experience provide a foundation on which Susanna stands to solve current, serious, and stress-creating vegetable production problems. While she feels fully competent to meet her production challenges, Susanna questions making major investments on rented property and looks to buy a place with more arable land. Susanna recognizes that her health and energy are essential resources and is glad that she is able to supplement her own diet with the healthy food she produces.

Susanna is becoming increasingly more involved with others in ways that are useful to her own farming venture. New to the area, Susanna had met no neighbors until she had chickens and then people began to stop by and engage in friendly conversations. An experienced farmer in her new central Ohio community, Susanna is becoming known and beginning to receive speaking invitations, for example by the Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association. While she has always attended agriculture-related conferences, Susanna participates more, is broadening her local network, and is getting recognized for her mentor capacities.

Production. In addition to the quarter acre of land Susanna owns in northern Ohio on which she grows a variety of fruits and in the past, vegetables and herbs, Susanna rents land in central Ohio, where she now resides and growing salad greens on a quarter acre. Susanna uses floating row cover weighted with rocks to protect her plants from insects, which also provides some protection from rabbits. She follows organic methods for the produce. Susanna uses compost she makes using a Compost Tumbler and applies a foliar feed made from seaweed.

Susanna received a gift of seven Bantam chickens in 2008 and learned how to effectively raise them, with her flock now numbering 19 and her own pullets laying their first eggs. She suspected and has confirmed that it is very difficult to find customers for these small eggs. However, Susanna thinks the knowledge gained from maintaining the Bantam flock will transfer to the more marketable breeds. Encouraged by a lecture at the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) conference, Susanna fashioned a Japanese beetle trap into a chicken feeder to provide nutritional supplementation for the chickens and insect control for the plants.

Business. In 2008 Susanna purchased product liability insurance and investigated marketing to grocers, produce distributors, and at a farmers market. However, her work schedule, in addition to production problems, precluded these endeavors during 2008.

Contact Information:

Susanna Dzejachok

Redozo Farm
1154 East 172nd St.
Cleveland, OH 44119

Cuyahoga County

216-926-3261
sdzejachok@gmail.com

Susanna has been farming organically for more than three decades, beginning on a quarter acre in northern Ohio, continuing in central Ohio, and now expanding into the urban frontier of Cleveland.