Meet the Farmer: Eli and Misty Cook of Spring Valley Farm and Orchard, Romney, West Virginia
“Fresh from the ground, year round.”
That’s the motto of Spring Valley Farm and Orchard, and Eli and Misty Cook make it happen, week after week, year after year. They’re a huge reason why we’re able to keep some local flavor and added variety in our farm boxes during the winter. Located in the rolling hills and valley of Augusta, West Virginia, Spring Valley Farm and Orchard is 345 acres of meticulously managed farm land, with 250 acres of orchards and over 100 acres of high tunnel greenhouse space. With over 80 varieties grown, Spring Valley Farm and Orchard provides a ton of variety throughout the year, without ever compromising quality for quantity. As most farms go dormant in the winter time, Spring Valley stays green – producing many specialty greens in their eleven heated greenhouses, and using Earth’s solar heat to produce beets, leeks, brussels sprouts and carrots all winter long.
Eli and Misty first started their farm in 2003 on just 52 acres of land. Eli worked on farms during high school, and went on to study horticulture and business at West Virginia University, where he met Misty. Though it wasn’t his plan to be a farmer, Eli was not getting the job offers he was hoping for upon graduation, and realized he could put his business studies and horticulture experience to good use. Eli and Misty chose the area for the farm because it was just outside Misty’s hometown, and conveniently about 100 miles outside the dense market of Washington, DC.
13 years and 3 children later, Spring Valley Farm and Orchard has a major presence in DC-area farmers markets, and is a consistent farm partner with From the Farmer. Eli is a true modern farmer, being as much of a businessman as he is a smart and innovative farmer. His bountiful strawberry crop this year is just one example of his skill, using an innovative technique of planting the berries on white plastic on north-facing slopes to maximize the speed of growth using reflection from the sun.
Eli speaks at conferences, travels internationally to buy the best seeds, and uses his decades of experience to develop innovative and sustainable ways to farm. Spring Valley has a state of the art 10,000 sq. ft. packing facility that meets stringent standards for food safety and cooling. The farm is 100% irrigated, so even in dry conditions Spring Valley’s products will be juicy and flavorful.
You can keep up with The Cook family and their farm by following along on their facebook page, where they are posting photos and updates from the farm and market on a daily basis. They also have a weekly e-newsletter for their farmers market regulars to get a heads up on what will be at the market each week, how much was planted or harvested that week, and what the weather conditions created (or unfortunately harmed.) Its a great way to learn more about where your food comes from, and the tremendous amount of work that goes into it all.