Johnston Organic Farmer Takes Pride in the Harvest

JOHNSTON, Iowa -- Saturday mornings at the Downtown Farmers Market are always busy with people, music, and food.

These busy mornings take a lot of preparation. one local farmer gets his stand ready for the farmers market.

Jordan Clasen’s organic farm “Grade A Gardens” sits on a several acres of land in the middle of suburban Johnston.

With his one-eyed canine buddy Rupert, Clasen harvests everything he is going to sell at Saturday`s farmers market on Friday.

“People joke that farmers are sun up to sun down and I would say on Friday`s, well most days that`s true but Friday`s it`s a little bit before the sun comes up and a little after the sun comes down,” says Clasen.

He wakes up before the chickens to harvest kale.

“Harvest all greens when the dew is still on them,” he says. “So we get up, we start harvesting kale and then we move to things like carrots, potatoes.”

Clasen says garlic, Walla Walla onions and the tomato crop are at the peak of its harvest this week. Grade A Gardens focuses on dark slicing heirloom tomatoes, “Cherokee purple, black krim, a new one called vorlon.”

Clasen knows every single crop variety, something he believes is important for farmers to share. He encourages people to ask their farmers questions.

“`Hey what variety is this?` you know, that way they know that the farmer is actually growing is and if it`s picture perfect, maybe say good job but maybe ask a few more questions,” Clasen says.

So, what does it mean to be an organic farmer?

“We use no synthetic chemicals, or pesticides either for fertility or for weed control,” he says.

Clasen says there is a lot of paperwork that goes into organic farming, keeping every seed packet and outlining crop rotation plans -- as well as random inspections.

“I like knowing that there`s such a high standard, so anytime you see that organic seal on something you know that farmer has to go through all the hoops.”

Clasen says they sell out of about 90-percent of their inventory every Saturday and the first vegetable that sells out is green beans.