110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
posted Apr 23, 2008 - 12:00:00am
If you drive down East Kentucky Avenue, you just might miss the dirt-road entrance to DeLand's very own organic farm.
Planted Earth Vegetables, owned and operated by Nize Nylen, is an organic produce and livestock farm in the middle of DeLand. Planted Earth spans 5 of Nylen's 10 acres. Her crops include both domestic and exotic edibles: salad greens, turnips, sprouts, peppers, carrots, broccoli, a wide variety of fresh herbs, fruits, and more. Fresh eggs are also available.
Nylen is a lifelong farmer. She grew up on a farm in Sao Miguel do Anto, Minas Gerais, Brazil, a small rural town whose 5,000 residents live mostly off small-scale agriculture.
"I grew up at a time when everything was grown organically on my father's farm. Later, he started putting poison on everything and, now, almost no one farms organically in that part of Brazil. It's a shame," Nylen said.
Planted Earth Vegetables grew out of the idea that Nylen's personal garden could be expanded into a small-scale organic farm. In March 2007, she sent out her first e-newsletter to about two dozen recipients, mostly faculty and staff of Stetson University, where her husband, Bill Nylen, teaches political science.
Today, her newsletters, which list available produce and are illustrated by husband Bill's photos, reach well over 300 people, yielding an average of 30 to 40 paying customers each week.
The Beacon visited Planted Earth Vegetables, where Nize Nylen took time (between weeding, feeding and trimming) to discuss her work.
Q. What is your favorite part of farming?
A. Just to be outside — outside of the four walls.
Q. Why did you choose organic farming?
A. If you're going to plant something, why not plant something different than what you can find in any supermarket? It's better for you, healthier for you.
Q. What does organic farming entail?
A. I'm not officially registered as an organic farmer. To do so takes a huge amount of time and bureaucracy. I follow the rules of organic farming and have received lots of help from people who know organic farming, most importantly from the agricultural extension people here in Volusia County.
Q. What livestock do you maintain and sell at Planted Earth Vegetables?
A. At this point, only chickens, ducks and goats. I only sell the eggs, not the animals. Someday, I hope to sell goat cheese, but that is a long way off.
Q. Approximately how many hours of work each week does it take you to maintain your crops and ensure customer demands are met?
A. I work on my dream seven days a week. I'm open for customer pickup Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. But, I'm usually working on Saturday afternoons and the better part of Sundays, too.
It's a lot of work for one person, and it's constant work. My husband and my kids provide important help, too. Sometimes I'm doing two or three things at once, and weeding as I go between each task.
I've got to maintain several things: the produce garden, chickens, fruit trees, a worm farm, meeting with customers and filling out their orders.
Readers can join the Planted Earth Vegetables e-mail list by sending a note to Nize Nylen at firstname.lastname@example.org. The farm, at 687 E. Kentucky Ave., is open to the public 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Customers are advised to call first to assure Nize Nylen is there.
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