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Bear Creek Farms

A look into Bear Creek Farms and what it takes to be a Certified Organic grower.

| Summer 2013

  • The Hails grow Certified Organic heirloom produce on 14 acres of their Bear Creek Farms in St. Clair County, Missouri.
    Photo by Jim Long
  • The farm has to be inspected every year in order to keep its organic certification. Every part of the operation must be not only organic, but documented as to where all organic fertilizers, supplements and seeds originate.
    Photo by Jim Long
  • Robbins is the greenhouse expert. Each year she starts 10,000 tomato plants; 7,000 for their fields and 3,000 for plant sales. She also starts a few thousand kale, cabbage and other vegetable plants in the greenhouse for the growing fields.
    Photo by Jim Long
  • After more than a decade of production, and having expanded to 14 acres of Certified Organic heirloom produce, Robbins and Jim are turning over much of the day-to-day operation of Bear Creek Farms to their son, Lonnie, his wife, Jeanna, and their children, Logan and Mykala.
    Photo by Jim Long
  • The farm grows only Certified Organic, non-GMO plants, which must be carefully monitored and documented in order to keep their USDA certification.
    Photo by Jim Long

Back when I was a kid growing up in the poor area of St. Clair County, not far from Osceola, Missouri, no matter how much you tried, you would not find anything there one might call “cutting edge.” However, today, at least one farm is at the forefront of an international movement of the sustainable, local food variety.

In the 1990s, before eating local and organic foods had become the impressive movement it is today, Robbins Hail began growing produce on their Bear Creek farm near Osceola for the local farmers market. Back then she and her husband, Jim, had to work off-farm to pay for their land. But it was the garden and growing healthy food that Robbins loved most. As soon as she could, she left her teaching job to grow produce full time. Eventually Jim joined Robbins in their growing enterprise.

Today, after more than a decade of production, and having expanded to growing 14 acres of certified organic, heirloom produce, Robbins and Jim are turning over much of the day-to-day operation of Bear Creek Farms to their son, Lonnie, and his wife Jeanna. A third generation—their son, Logan, and their daughter, Mykala, who are both in high school—enthusiastically works with their parents and grandparents each summer and on weekends, truly sharing the family’s dedication to progressive farming.



Growing for Market

Robbins is the greenhouse expert. “I love planting seed and seeing what comes up!” she says. Each year she starts 10,000 tomato plants; 7,000 for their fields and 3,000 for plant sales. She also starts a few thousand kale, cabbage and other vegetable plants in the greenhouse for the growing fields. A former intern, Austin Jones, prompted the Hails to begin an orchard of heirloom apples and pears, so they are in the process of planting 500 heirloom fruit trees, as well.



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