“It’s one of those things I think gets in your blood.”
These are the words of life-long gardener Leola Boyce. Leola was one of the original vendors at Osceola’s Farmers’ Market (OFM) nearly 25 years ago, and although she’s taken breaks throughout the years, she and her son Andy, of B&B Gardens, have been growing produce and herbs to sell at OFM for the past five years.
When Andy was a little boy, Leola would bring him and his siblings to OFM to help sell fresh produce and baked goods. She immersed her children into a culture that allowed them to interact with other children and vendors while learning the value of growing and selling food. Now that Andy is a parent, his children are able to participate in OFM, just as he did.
Healing from a broken leg several years ago, Andy used his downtime to learn as much as he could about growing food. He was inspired by two documentaries, “Fresh” and “Farmageddon,” which reinforced his desire to raise wholesome food ethically and sustainably.
“As I started digging into this, I realized from the studies I’ve seen and the people I’ve read about and talked to and such that produce grown in healthier soil, produces far healthier produce and animals raised on healthier vegetation and in a proper husbandry situation are happier, healthier animals,” Andy said.
Andy said there is a discrepancy between farm-raised food and industrialized food. He said pastured, farm-raised chickens produce eggs with higher nutritional content and lower saturated fat and cholesterol.
“An egg is an egg is an egg is just not true,” Andy said.
Just as important as product quality, Andy said he believes his chickens and all animals should be raised outdoors in a natural environment where they can walk freely and eat what nature intended them to eat.
“We are trying to let a chicken be a chicken,” he said.
Working with only five acres of farmland, Andy and Leola plan on utilizing every inch of space to create a circle of sustainability. In addition to growing produce, B&B Gardens also grows certified organic aronia berries. They hope to organically certify their produce, as well. Currently, they raise a handful of animals for personal consumption, but they hope to soon sell rabbit, goat, chicken and farm-fresh eggs at OFM.
Leola Boyce can be reached at 641-414-6363. For more information contact Southern Iowa RC&D food coordinator, Alexi Groumoutis at 641-782-4033. Like “Southern Iowa Local Food Initiative” on Facebook.