[box] Business: PoindexterFarm Known for: Juicy blueberries and a tight-run enterprise Years at the market: Going into 4th year Why sell at the market: “I couldn’t run my business without my spot at the Saturday market.” “It’s pure fun.” [/box]
Tom Martin is a jack-of-all-trades. He runs his 24-acre farm in Louisa County like a well-oiled machine, from top to bottom, day after day, by himself. “I love it,” he says without hesitation. Tom loves it for mainly two reasons: physical fitness (farming does have some advantages if you are looking to shed a few pounds, although Tom would tell you to be ready for non-stop hard work. “You sit, you rot.”) and the opportunity to give customers organic and fresh produce.
Everything Tom produces is organic; he never sprays his berries and his meat birds are only fed with non-medicated, organic feed—and people have started to notice. “Customers really like it,” he says. In fact, some of his customers have been making his farm part of their Saturday market routine because of the transparency with which he operates his enterprise, something they were open to witness during Market Central’s annual Farm Tour. Tom is a big fan. “I like the transparency of the tour,” he says.
Before purchasing Poindexter Farm in the mid-90s, Tom spent 25 years in the building business as a subcontractor. Although his father and grandfather were dairy farmers, he never gave becoming one himself a second thought. That was until he found a pristine piece of land in the Green Springs area of Louisa County. 2008 was the decisive year. “I started getting serious” about farming, he says—and he wasn’t joking. Tom’s bountiful farm currently includes 200 plants of blueberries (which will double by 2014), 1,000 asparagus plants (best sellers, along with the blueberries), 75 laying hens, which produce 75 eggs a week, and about 200 pasture poultry, his meat birds. “That’s where my future is,” he says, referring to the birds.
Tom believes that supplying his customers with fresh, not frozen, poultry is the way of the future. “Freshness is the most important thing,” he says with conviction. If you build it, they will come.
Tom’s typical day begins with a 4:30 morning call, a quick but hearty breakfast and it’s immediately time for farm work. Feeding and letting out the hens from their mobile pens is the first task, which on processing days can take up until lunchtime. Collecting eggs is up next, followed by an afternoon of blueberry picking and Tom’s least favorite job: weeding
“The hardest part for me is keeping up with the weeding,” he says. “That’s what can really set me behind,” and doing it alone can become overwhelming.
Tom has set his sight on hiring part-time help for next season to help with the farm upkeep, and perhaps to find time for a quick round of golf.
“I used to love to play golf,” he says with a smile. “Now I feel guilty playing. It takes too much time.”
“I love to work. This is actually my hobby.”