Century Harvest Farms began in 2007 as a solution to the growing cultural problems of unsustainable resource management.
After returning from NYC shortly after the World Trade Center was razed, Chris Burger saw firsthand how the problems of poor resource management had reached a global scale. Burger, along with his wife Shona, began their love of farming with the discovery that nurtured soil has the capacity for forgiveness. “Early on, we saw that the first field we ever spread compost on was ready to till and plant earlier in the spring. It absorbed more rain without eroding, fostered greater seed germination, and would yield a greater crop with less susceptibility to blight.”
The bio-diversity of the East Tennessee River Valley inspires every choice the Burgers make and guides them to keep farming with their ideals of food quality, integrity, and sustainability. The breeds of cattle and types of vegetables, when to plant and harvest are all decided by their location. “Abiding by these rules means we don’t have to use things like GMOs or pesticides.”
Their goal in farming is to bring about meaningful, lasting reforms to the food system; making it more local, more organic, and ultimately more sustainable. Burger adds, “Our farming practices are the same as those that have sustained humanity for thousands of years, and they will be practiced long after the industrial farming methods have fallen by the wayside.”
At Century Harvest Farms, they raise and grow as many of their ingredients as possible, however they do source from other producers that share their same vision of sustainability, quality, and integrity. Burger believes that efficiency cannot come at the cost of integrity.
The beauty of cottage industry in small-scale farming is that it is an expression of place. We benefit by growing and purchasing our ingredients locally, and this, in turn produces a flavor profile that is unique to our area. What we produce is a reflection of who and where we are.
Burger’s vision is to see a small-scale food plant in every small town in the Southeast. “Processing and marketing is the only thing standing in the way of local crops being marketed to local consumers, and it’s our job to break down this barrier.” Century Harvest Farms has increased access to healthy foods, with the launch of their 1 for 1 program where under-served people can pick vegetables and keep half of what they pick. People with barriers to employment, such as immigration status, addiction recovery or homelessness can gain access to high-quality foods, no cash required.
You can find Century Harvest Farms products for purchase online at www.centuryharveststore.org and at gourmet retailers, fine groceries and restaurants throughout the Southeast. Check their website for a complete list.