Rock View Farm Brings Fresh Produce to Caldwell County
When Tony Estes and his wife Patricia purchased their farm in Caldwell County two years ago, they knew the land was not suited for traditional row crop production, but that didn’t stop them from pursuing their dream. Now, two years later, Tony, Patricia, and their sons Levi and Luke, run Rock View Farm where they raise crossbred meat goats and grow commercial vegetables, many of which are grown in their new seasonal high tunnel.
Tony grew up working on his grandfather’s farm in Daviess County Kentucky and it was during this time that he developed the love of farming. He now works for United Soils Inc., a soil testing lab located in Fairbury, Illinois, as the Director of Sales for the southern region. His work has kept him close to agriculture and his love of the land has never wavered. “Once we were able to get back to Kentucky and bought our property, we decided that we were going to do something a bit different with our farm,” Tony said.
Tony had been focused primarily on the livestock by installing fencing, stream crossings, spring development and watering tanks through the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), but when Mike Clayton, the district conservationist from the NRCS told Tony about the Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative he saw an opportunity to provide fresh produce to the community even during the colder months. Tony said, “I thought a seasonal high tunnel would be a good way to offer fresh, locally grown products to the market at a time of the year when they are otherwise unavailable.”
The Estes’ seasonal high tunnel was installed by Scenic Acres from Elkton, Kentucky in June of 2013. The family has been through one fall cropping cycle that included growing tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, snap beans, radishes and onions. They are Kentucky Proud members and their produce is marketed through Princeton Farm Fresh, a local internet market. The Estes’ also partner with Hancock’s Neighborhood Market in Princeton. Tony said, “Watching our products grow from start to finish and seeing them on the market shelf is rewarding. I look at the products and think, wow, that’s mine, I grew that!”
Tony knows that it takes a lot of work to get the business making a profit but he enjoys knowing the family is providing locally grown products to the community. He said, “It gives us an opportunity to utilize our farm which is not best suited for traditional row crop production.”
Tony’s advice to others interested in participating in the EQIP-Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative is to “be meticulous with your site selection.” He added, “Choose the right size tunnel because they fill up fast and don’t be afraid to ask someone with experience for advice.”
For more information on how you can participate in the Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative, contact your local NRCS office at: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/ky/contact/local/ or visit www.ky.nrcs.usda.gov to find out more about the programs offered through the USDA-NRCS.