Organic Farming with Green Door Gourmet

Kelly Perry - 00:02 - You are listening to the Team Flower Podcast where we talk about flowers with the people who've dedicated their lives to sharing them with the world. We believe that your work with flowers matters in leader cheering you on today. Hi. My name's Kelly, and today our guest is Sylvia from Green Door Gourmet Farm. Green Door grows flowers and food in Nashville. Sylvia is the farm operator and brings years of farm in restaurant experience as well as a passion for food and education. Her background growing up on a dairy farm in North Carolina melds with her many years in the restaurant business, including being chef and owner at her former Nashville based establishment, Chibo. Sylvia is passionate about growing delicious, nutritious food and providing patrons a beautiful place to come and experience food flowers in farming firsthand. In this episode, Sylvia is giving us an inside look into the workings of the farm from what is grown, how it's grown, for diving into what it looks like to grow organically and Sylvia issue and helpful tips and resources for sustainable farming. 

Kelly Perry - 01:03 - We're talking about compost tea plants, companion planting, and more. Listen to in here why okra is Sylvia's favorite part of the farm and what a day in the life of harvest looks like at Green Door Gourmet. This podcast is brought to you by team, flower and online support community dedicated to educating, connecting and empowering flower lovers worldwide. We provide online classes in person events and free weekly resources designed to support you in your attorney with flowers, whether you're a professional florists, flower farmer, or if you just slow flowers. There is a place for you here, no matter what part of the floral industry you're in. Come join the party at Well, Sylvia. It's so great to have you on the program today. Thanks for joining us.. 

Sylvia Ganier - 01:55 - It is absolutely my pleasure to be here. 

Kelly Perry - 01:58 - Tell us a little bit about your farm. How did you get started and just tell us a little bit about the story. 

Sylvia Ganier - 02:04 - Well, the farm has been a family farm and my husband's family since 1942. And so when we got married, I thought I was retiring from the restaurant industry and when I did that, the availability of fresh, beautiful produce and lovely flowers, the market kind of closed up because the chefs get all the good stuff. Right? And so I wanted to have access to that again. So I asked for a small kitchen garden and he decided to fence nine acres away. So. So being a woman that big loves a good challenge, I said, well, if you will fence it, then uh, I will grow it. And so that began this, this madness about eight years ago here on the farm for a Green Door Gourmet. 

Sylvia Ganier - 02:54 - And we started outgrowing Zinnias and sunflowers and classic things as well as all different kinds from pumpkins to cucumbers, things individually bubble world as well. And we found that the flowers were very integral in helping bring the pollinators as well as the beauty too. But we were doing. People started showing up. The next thing you know, we're building a farm market store. We're building an event space and fast forward eight years later, we have hundreds of people a week coming out for flowers and produce here to Green Door Gourmet. 

Kelly Perry - 03:27 - That's so wonderful. Well, I'm really excited to come down and visit you guys this fall in October for the American grown field to vase tour and the dinner and all that kind of stuff, so I'm really excited to be able to be part of that and to see what it is that you guys do everyday. I think that's going to be so fun. 

Sylvia Ganier - 03:45 - Well, it is a lot of work, but it's also a passion of just about every single person that works here everyday of the year because some days it gets hot. We get tired, we kind of forget, and then all of a sudden a flower blooms and we're right back on track, so it's really awesome. 

Kelly Perry - 04:01 - That's great. You guys grow organically. Tell us a little bit about what you use to protect against weeds and unwanted pests, those kinds of things. Any. Any tips that you might have to share with our listeners today? 

Sylvia Ganier - 04:13 - Well, I often joke and say there's a reason we call them squash bugs. A lot of it is hand labor, hand picking off the bugs, that sort of things. We do a little bit of plastic culture, but not very much because we really believe in in the anaerobic activity, the biodynamics sort of farming. We're learning that compost teas really make a big difference and pest control and so we've started implementing data a little bit more on the farm and also growing the trap crops and a companion planting. That's been a big exercise for us as well. 

Kelly Perry - 04:50 - Tell us a little bit more about the compost teas. What are some plans and could you just elaborate a little bit more on, for somebody who's maybe never heard that term before, what is the compost tea? What's the process look like to make that and get out in the field? I know it can be a little bit stinky. 

Sylvia Ganier - 05:08 - Well, yes, but for the most part, what we really like is to tell people that if you don't like how it smells, you should not put it in your compost tea so you're not looking at just a menu or something like that. You're actually taking, truly developed compost in a small amount, mixing that into pure water. Nothing that has chlorine or anything like that in there. Some people like to put a little extra feed, if you will, for those microbes by using blackstrap molasses or something like that. And then you put that and a big brewer, if you will, and you let it steep five minutes to an hour. Uh, the more bubbles that you kind of get in there, the more you're actually working this compost and turning it into things that when you put out on the field, all those good natural microbes that you want to encourage the good bacteria in the soil, the healthy things, they'll find that as their new best friend and they employ that and they began to help your plant health. 

Sylvia Ganier - 06:05 - So that's really what we're into. No, trying to figure out what's the balance of that and using any sort of particular a biodynamic preparations in conjunction with that, but just really starting with great compost to begin with is the key to it.

Kelly Perry - 06:19 - That sounds like great advice. Is there a book that you might recommend on this particular topic and if not, that's. If not, that's totally fine or maybe just about growing organically? 

Sylvia Ganier - 06:29 - Uh, I adore books and so I could probably give you a hundred different titles, but the most geeky one, the science one that you want to kind of understand the balance from your fields is a two part series and it's teeming with nutrients and teaming with microbes. Those are two very science sort of based books, but they tell you if your soil's a little bit off or what you need and how to think about it from a scientific standpoint out in the field. 

Kelly Perry - 06:59 - Great. And thank you for sharing that. Let's talk a little bit about the trap crops that you mentioned. Could you elaborate on what that is and maybe I'm a few examples of ones that you are trying and how they're. How they're performing for you? 

Sylvia Ganier - 07:12 - Well, if you think about a trap crop is a little bit like going to your favorite store and you walk past and you have one thing in mind and you really want to go for that one thing and then all of a sudden you see the big shoe variety and it's like, oh my gosh, I'm so busy looking at all these shoes over here. I forgot what I came into the store for it. Right? So that's what we want to try to do to the bugs or insects. We want to give them something that they like are more interested in then the crop that we're really trying to bring to fruition. So that's what a trap crop is. So the key is to say what kind of bugs do I have and what do they like even more than the x, y, z that I'm trying to get to market. And that's. And that's where you would put a row or two of those things on the outskirts of your planting that you're really trying to keep the bugs away from. So they stopped there and they enjoy browsing the shoe rack versus going in and getting the white shirt that you really wanted to get in the beginning. So that's kinda how trap crop works. 

Kelly Perry - 08:14 - That's a really fun explanation. I, I credit the apple tree out back to keeping the deer out of my garden, go back there and they get really full. Just guzzling down all those apples and then they miss it. Although I did add a little bit of Bush violet, which is such a sweet, a cut flower in the front garden and they do seem to really, really like that one. So now the front of the garden is on their, their rotation a little bit. 

Sylvia Ganier - 08:44 - But if you want to trap crop the deer and not get them into the flowers, just planned a couple of rows of edamame May, they will definitely go right to that. Edamame a first. How do I know that? Four acres in one night of Edamame, a dear, 

Kelly Perry - 08:58 - my goodness. Oh, oh no. I'm so sorry to hear that, but what? Whatever a great lesson that you can. Yeah, great lesson to share. Oh my goodness. How did you recover from that? 

Sylvia Ganier - 09:12 - Well, we didn't have edamame and the CSA that year. I'll show you 

Kelly Perry - 09:21 - companion planting. I think this is a really fun technique and you're planting things that I should just let you explain it better. You'll probably have some great shoe rack analogy. Yeah. 

Sylvia Ganier - 09:35 - Well, my background is not only growing things, it is the food industry in general, and I would always say when someone would come to a cooking class or want to know, wow, how did you come up with these flavors? Well, the answer is if it works together on the plate than it works together in the field. So if you were trying to have your rugala not decimated late spring, then your Nestor Shims are your best friend. And if you are trying to make sure that you don't have the, uh, the potato beetle or the Colorado beetle in your potato plants, then you want to make sure that you have some dill or cucumbers next door to that. So there are certain things that animals don't like. If you want to try to keep the bunnies at bay, you won't keep all of them out, but keep them at bay. Rosemary as a rosemary hedge because they don't like the resin when they rub up against the plant, they don't like it on there for. So it helps to tear them from, from going in. 

Sylvia Ganier - 10:34 - So the old timers really, uh, had it right because they didn't have the benefit of going out and finding something, you know, to just take care of that problem of whatever type of pest it was. So they figured out if I put this with that, then it's going to grow better. It's going to work better. The Basil that you put around your tomatoes, the Basil Oil, the tomato horn worm hates that. So that's why you plant the companion Basil along with your tomatoes, is to keep the horn worms at bay. So there are all kinds of fun stuff. 

Kelly Perry - 11:06 - Yeah. What a beautiful way to think about that. And I do, I love going back like what were people doing 100, 200, three years at 300 years ago and what, what does it look like in different cultures and those kinds of things because we can kind of become a little bit limited in our ability to solve problems when we're only looking to maybe what the most current thing is. There have been so many people who've gone before us and created really solid foundations that have been really effective and have worked. And um, I think that's a really a great perspective to have. To kind of pop back into that a little bit. 

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Kelly Perry - 12:35 - Well, tell us what's your favorite aspect about working on the farm? You seem like you're very interested in science, but what? What's life look like day to day for you and what are your, some of your favorite parts? 

Sylvia Ganier - 12:45 - Certainly working with young people to get them very excited to stir their passions about growing great food and beautiful flowers. That's a big part of what I do. I like to say that I, I grow soil and great food and agripreneurs. Those young agripreneurs are really the future of our farming world. So that's one of the great aspects that I get to do every day and I'm very blessed to have a tremendous crew and people that are very passionate about what they're doing. So that's one of the most important things of what I do here on the farm. Um, I do geek out on learning about the soil and retaking and truly making something sustainable by taking care of the soil as we go. And I'm all about the food. I adore great food, whether it's fresh, right in the field of snipping off a bean and tasting it. 

Sylvia Ganier - 13:40 - And that's what I want to give to my customer. That wonderful magic flavor profile that comes from the simplicity of just a perfect ingredient. So that's a big thing for me. And if you said, what is the most favorite thing that you get to play in? Everybody here on the farm will tell you that it's Okra and Okra is that forgotten vegetable or the vegetable that everybody thinks they don't like until I make them a convert. And it's such an amazing plant. It's the bridge plant between a hibiscus and cotton. And so it has the beautiful flower that looks like a hibiscus. But you can eat every single part of the plant. 

Kelly Perry - 14:21 - Wow. So do you, do you use every single part of the plant together in different dishes? What's your, what's your favorite Okra recipe. And do you pickle them? I love pickled Okra. I bet you have such a good one. 

Sylvia Ganier - 14:34 - Isn't that the best? Love? Pickled Okra. But I like it raw just out of the field. So that's how. How much of a Fan I am of Okra? So when you cut Okra, that is what stimulates the slime factor that everybody says they don't like about okra. They only like it if it's fried, crispy or something like that. So if you leave the pod hole, you're not going to get that usage, it'll latinoness sort of something happening with it. So I like to take the whole pods, but I'm in a cast iron skillet with just a little bit of oil and sprinkle it with the barbecue spice that's been hiding in your cabinet that you have left back there. Always going to make ribs and now I've got this whole can have a barbecue spices left. Use It on your Okra and do it in a cast iron skillet. Cook it until it's just tender, crisp and it's a fabulous appetizer or starter to any meal or side dish 

Kelly Perry - 15:23 - That sounds so good. Are we going to be having any Okra at the American grown dinner? 

Sylvia Ganier - 15:27 - Do you know as. As long as we don't get a super early frost. It is definitely in the list of ingredients that the chefs have to play with. So that is so exciting for me to know. We have an amazing guest chef coming and of course our farm shift. Richard is fantastic in his own right, but. But Deb Beckett is known as the, as the founding woman chef of Nashville. It's just so awesome to have her here. She has been one of the shifts that have come out and help glean and gather things in the field and she loves Okra. So you might just see it making an appearance. 

Kelly Perry - 16:08 - That's exciting. What about flowers? I haven't talked with your team yet about all the different kinds of flowers that you grow. Can you fill us in a little bit on, on what you've got in the field this year? 

Sylvia Ganier - 16:17 - Well, I, I don't want to give everything away because you know, what fun is that there needs to be some sort of reveal, right. But I know that Laura has been hard at work making sure that the fall things are in and she's also putting in a lot of things that will be great for us in the spring. Nashville gets a frost probably as early as that second week of October, so some, some places have a little bit longer window than what we do. So we have to be thinking ahead for frost and freeze and, and making sure the fields are great for that. But I know she'll have all the usual favorites that you probably can go down the list and go check, check, check, check, and they'll all be right there waiting on you. And the Dahlias should be still going very strong. 

Kelly Perry - 17:05 - That sounds really exciting. Yeah. We're really excited about coming down in arranging and bring in some Team Flower people down to, uh, to check it out and see the farm and all that kind of good stuff. So thank you so much for hosting us. And if you happen to be listening, you can just head over to the American grown council if you'd like to um, American grown flowers if you'd like to get some tickets to that dinner and they have them all over the, all over the country. So this is when we were just excited as close to home and that we get to be part of. So anyway. Well tell us maybe a rundown of a day in the life during harvest. What's that look like for you? 

Sylvia Ganier - 17:42 - Well, we grow even in the wintertime, we do hoophouse growing and the wintertime is not rest time. You're prepping your fields for the next thing and making sure the strawberries are taking care of you, plant those in the fall. Then we uh, overwinter them for the spring so we have a lot of care and maintenance of the plant still going on. But a day in the, the usual life of a harvest is 5:30, wake up, don't talk to anyone including my husband and the dogs until after the first cup of coffee and be ready to start answering the phone and getting things ready for the day by six. This time of year, I like to be out in the okra patch as early as possible because if you've ever played in the okra patch, you know it's very itchy and so you are wearing long sleeves and long pants and gloves and a. It gets really hot and humid pretty quick here in Nashville, first thing in the morning this time of year, so an hour or so down in the okra patch, harvesting, all of that, checking in, making sure everyone has what they need to get going. 

Sylvia Ganier - 18:42 - So we have 34 employees here on the farm and so I kind of need to touch base with all of them to make sure that everybody's on track. They don't have any questions, things running smoothly, if you will. I'm checking in with Laura and the flower team to see what they have going on. Making sure that the beds were getting ready. We have all the outlets for our product being taken care of, the way they need. Checking in with the foreign market to make sure everything looks beautiful in there. Telling folks what to make sure that they look at sort, take care of getting product back up to the store, uh, and then the day just kind of continues on and that kind of realm. So it's a, everyday is a little bit different, but every day is just making sure that I take care of what my team needs to stay functioning and vital. 

Kelly Perry - 19:31 - Sylvia, see, he seemed like a very resilient person. Is there a mantra or mindset or something that whenever you're feeling really high and really tired and you're like, Ooh, I got to keep. I got to keep rolling. Do you, is there something like that that, that you just feel like it's important to keep in mind through difficult times? 

Sylvia Ganier - 19:51 - Well, you wouldn't say there's an actual sentence or a phrase, but there's a, a great song and a, if you're familiar with the bluegrass world group called new grass revival, recorded this song and it's called you do what you gotta do. And so sometimes I just keep that, uh, that disc loaded in the, in the farm vehicle. And if it's kind of a rough day, I just put that three minute long song in there and then I feel like I can go back out and come back world again. 

Kelly Perry - 20:17 - That's awesome. Yeah, it is. It can be difficult to build something big whenever you're in the middle of it. But something that Jesse has just been so faithful and helpful with me as I'm pursuing my dreams is that kind of one step at a time mentality of like we're going to do the next thing that's in front the next right thing that's in front of us to do and we're going to keep doing that. And over time that's how we get places, right. Like one one step at at time. So. But thank you so much for on and joining us today. Before we sign off, is there anything that you might like to say to encourage farmers who are looking to continue growing their businesses? 

Sylvia Ganier - 20:55 - I think the most important thing that I would say to that is find your network. There's a wonderful woman, her name is Natalie Dupree. She is a, a grand dom of southern food and cooking and um, she has a theory called the pork chop theory and the pork chop theory is basically if you put one pork chop in a pan and you try to cook it, it's just going to wither up and shrivel and be very tough and chewy and not going to be decent to eat. However, if you add another pork chop into that pan and you cook them together, all of a sudden both of them turn out beautiful and flavorful and perfect. So sometimes I think we feel like we're in something all alone and finding that farm team mentor, finding the person that she can go to when you have questions, not feeling like you're in it alone, that is going to be the very best way to make sure that you're in it to win it. And that would be my advice is find your team. 

Kelly Perry - 21:56 - Oh, thank you so much for coming on. We can agree with that. That sentiment more into all of you listening. Thanks you. Thank you so much for tuning in today. And Yeah, just a big team as we sign off on this episode of the team flower podcast. If you enjoyed today's episode of the Team Flower podcast, would you help us by leaving a rating and review the more ratings and reviews, the easier it is for other flower levers to find the podcast. Thanks for being a part of Team Flower and helping us build this dream together. We're so grateful.

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