My name is Ray Arlinghaus. My wife Judy and I live on a farm in northern Ross Township just outside of Millville. We purchased the land in 1985. Our home site is on the higher ground and provides us a beautiful view of the Indian Creek valley. Our three children are grown and married. All three are engineers and their careers have taken them to Minneapolis, Nashville, and Fishers Indiana. Coming home to the farm, with their spouses and children, is always special. Because of what we grow, hardly a visit goes by without some Butler county “goodies” going back with them.
Unlike our local farming neighbors who raise livestock and row crops, we grow and market fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. We have five acres of fruit (mostly peaches), about three acres of vegetables (mostly tomatoes) and a quarter acre in cut flower production. Rounding out our 28 acres are soybeans, hay crops, winter rye (for mulching straw and cover crop), and some conservation meadows.
I grew up in northern Hamilton County and have been involved in “truck farming,” in varying degrees, most of my life. For many years I helped out on my family’s farm and later assisted my three children who grew vegetables for wholesale during their high school and college years. When I left the corporate world in 2000 the crops were expanded to include the tree fruit and flowers. By most measures we are a small farming operation, but that is good. Being small allows me to focus on quality and good service to our customers. We sell all our produce to local retail businesses, and to the public at the Farmers Market in Uptown Oxford. We are very fortunate to have great customers who truly appreciate quality local produce and cut flowers.
As for all farmers in the area, the record rainfall and the accompanying overcast skies have made 2011 a very difficult year so far. We start about 25,000 vegetable and flower transplants each year. Field planting starts in April and is largely complete by mid-May. Because of the weather this year, most of our earliest crops were held in the plant trays for many weeks beyond their prime. Consequently we had to trash many of our transplants and re-sow them in order to ensure that healthy, vigorous plants would go to the fields and garden plots. As a result, we lost not only growing time, but the effort, materials and seed cost. I’m glad to report, however, that we are now caught up on our planting and the crops look good. We will start harvesting many of the vegetables later than normal but they will be of good quality – our number one goal.
Our 2011 peach and apple crops will be smaller than last year, due to winter damage on the peaches last January when we hit fourteen degrees below zero one night, and cold, rainy, cloudy weather during the apple bloom that significantly reduced bee activity and pollination. I’ll talk more about the bees during one of my daily diaries. Mid-summer is a very busy time for me but I am committed to keeping up with my diary. So, I hope you will follow me around the farm, and to our markets, during the month of July. I will try to candidly share with you not just what we do, but also why we do it.