Harvest Thyme Herbs
|Address:|| 95 Chestnut Ridge Road
Staunton, VA 24401
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• Located just south of Staunton, Virginia, this small, sustainable farm is operated by Deirdre and Phil Armstrong. It consists of six acres on the property where their home is situated.
• Foodwaze has had a chance to visit with the Armstrongs and learn first-hand about their growing practices, which adhere to some of the highest standards you'll find anywhere.
• They grow an enormous variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers. This crop diversity is a key component of their sustainable practices, which also includes a lot of hard work...hand-picking weeds and bugs and giving nearly every plant individual attention.
• To learn more about what they grow, please click on the Details tab.
• Harvest Thyme sells primarily to restaurants around the area.. which are mostly listed on Foodwaze.
• Please read more about them under our Details tab.
Harvest Thyme Herbs is located on six acres of property at the home of Deirdre and Phil Armstrong. The farm is located just south of Staunton, Virginia. Foodwaze visited with the Armstrongs in July 2015, and we can assure you there is A LOT of love and nourishment in the food they grow.
What’s truly amazing about their farm is the wide variety of plants flourishing throughout the numerous gardens. Don’t be mislead by the name. It is not just herbs they tend, but a glorious mix of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs... some quite unusual. Almost every group of plants seems to have a story behind it, and the Armstrongs wax enthusiastically about them all.
Originally from Maryland, the Armstrongs bought the property in 2001, resurrecting it from its dormant state as an old apple orchard. While they originally sold their produce at the local farmer’s market, they now focus entirely on supplying a few restaurants in the area. They are mainstays on the menu at Ivy Inn and Maya restaurants in Charlottesville, and Zynodoa in Staunton, all highly recommended by Foodwaze for their all around commitment to sustainable food producers.
Crop diversity is a key tenet of sustainable agriculture. The Armstrongs have this down pat. The cornucopia of common herbs such as dill, mint, and rosemary are interspersed with cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, Aleppo peppers, and plenty of squash, including the distinctive bi-color summer variety known as zephyr squash. But it gets much more interesting than that. There are edible flowers such as those from the lemon verbena and fennel plants. There are sugar snap peas from rare seeds obtained directly from Dr. Calvin Lamborn, the man responsible for breeding the first sugar snap pea in the late 1970s.
For some plants they’ll save their own seeds but they also source them from places like Wild Garden Seed, an organic seed company in Oregon. Or they’ll find starter plants from their wide network of like-minded horticulturalists in the region and beyond.
Creativity and diversity are their hallmarks, but there is clearly an order and rationale to everything. You’ll find cowpeas, cranberry beans, and greasy beans, a local heirloom variety that gets its name from its greasy look and feel. Legumes are an important tool on any sustainable farm for their ability to “fix” nitrogen in the soil.
Continuing around the property, you’ll discover watermelon radishes, miner’s lettuce, figs, and a trellis growing Hardy kiwi, a variety with an extra kick of sweetness compared to the standard store-bought kiwi.
Then there’s the towering cluster of Jerusalem artichokes, also know as sunchokes. It’s native to North America and looks like the common sunflower, but their roots can be harvested to eat. The plant is actually a weed and spreads like one, but the Armstrongs know “good” weeds like sunchokes and lambsquarters are a sign of healthy soil. They are plants worth nurturing, not fearing.
In fact, the Armstrongs don’t seem to fear much at all around their property. They accept what nature throws their way with fortitude and aplomb, hand-picking the troublesome weeds and usually letting nature takes its course when it comes to bugs and other pests.
The Armstrongs have had some help over the years, but mostly tend the property themselves, and it’s that personal care that seems to be their hallmark. They have a chance to test it on some apples. They planted three trees in homage to the property’s heritage, and they were expecting their first crop in the Fall of 2015.