For Pomykala Farm, it all Began with Asparagus ...
Pomykala Farm started with asparagus. What is now one of the biggest and longest running vegetable farms in the Islands , Pomykala Farm began from Bob Pomykala's idea of how to avoid direct competition with his mentor.
"I worked at Sam Mazza's in Colchester for many years back in the seventies, learning the trade and running the farm crew." says Bob. "We were out there picking summer squash day in and day out. I fell in love with being a farmer and Sam was very supportive of my enthusiasm. He even let me use a small field of his to start some of my own asparagus crowns from seed. When Jane and I bought our own land in Grand Isle in 1977, we moved our new asparagus crowns to the new location, and that became the backbone of our business. No other local farm was growing asparagus back then."
Jane remembers what it was like trying to sell to restaurants in the beginning. "There was no 'Buy Local' back then. Bob and I would load up our pickup in the morning and drive around, hoping somebody would buy our produce. Chefs were convinced there was no need to buy fresh local vegetables back then. The thinking was it's simpler to buy canned and frozen!"
Fast forward to today, and the "Buy Local" movement that is so strong in Vermont has been very good to the Pomykalas. Next year marks 40 years in continuous operation for the farm. Bob and Jane work hard to meet the strong demand for their produce and their oldest son Benjamin has recently joined the family business.
"Going to work on the farm every day is literally going home for me." says Ben. "The days my daughter comes with me, are the best - it's a great feeling having three generations working side by side. Maggie's favorite jobs are picking beans and grabbing some baby cucumbers to munch on. At age seven, she can already tell you the different varieties by appearance alone."
Pomykala Farm has grown into a 70 acre farm with fields in two locations in Grand Isle. They operate a farm stand, pick your own strawberries, and offer produce at the Grand Isle, South Hero, and Burlington Farmers Markets. You can find their fresh, in season produce at many restaurants around the Islands and Chittenden County, not to mention City Market in Burlington and Wake Robin in Shelburne. The fall harvest brings so many vegetables they often call on Black River Produce for help with distribution across the state.
From Asparagus on Mother's Day until Winter Squash on Thanksgiving, every week there is something new on offer from Pomykala Farm.
"Some of our customers call us the 'Walmart' of local farms, because we offer such a large selection of items! We take it as a compliment." says Jane. "Okra, kohlrabi, tomatillos, edible flowers, shell peas, speciality beets - we like to grow some less common vegetables, in addition to the staples we all know and love. It adds some excitement to each season, trying new crops and new varieties. Not to mention the fun of talking to our customers at the farmers market about vegetables they have never seen before!"