I visited Bootstraps Farm in Renick, WV on a rainy August morning when Caroline Buttrill Smith was just harvesting the last of the season’s blueberries. Her husband and farm partner Michael Buttrill sat down with a cup of hot tea to tell me his farming story. He has recently (in the past 2 years) transitioned to full time farmer. He knew he wanted to be a farmer by the time he finished college at New York University. Tired of the burn out that comes along with environmental activism, he decided farming was a sustainable way to address his concerns for the changing planet. He interned on a family farm in Illinois owned by a Japanese translator and his Japanese wife and learned about market gardening and growing organically.
Bootstraps Farm has been offering the people of the Greenbrier Valley organically grown fruits and vegetables since 2002 when Michael Buttrill co-founded the Lewisburg Farmers Market. The farm’s mission is to heal the planet and people through organic agriculture. Part of fulfilling this mission includes being as diverse as possible and selecting seeds varieties that not only taste superior to grocery store produce but are well suited for this climate. Bootstrap’s grows specialty vegetables such as Komatsuna, a variety of Asian green similar to Bok Choi and Kabocha squash, a sweet, orange fleshed, cultivar of winter squash.
Michael is an innovator with sustainability on his mind. His most recent project is converting half of his high tunnel into an aquaponics operation – a food production system in which the fish (in this case, tilapia) provide all the nutrients needed to grow the vegetables. After the water is run through a series of beds, which contain bacteria growing substrate to break down the fish by-products, the water is pumped into aqua-beds for the plants to utilize the nutrients. The water is then circulated back to the fish tanks after it has passed through more vegetable beds and has been filter and aerated by the plants. “This is the future of sustainability,” he says and “high tunnel magic.” To learn more you should stop by the Lewisburg Farmers Market and ask Michael about it.
Bootstraps Farm is at the Lewisburg Farmers Market every Saturday from 8:30am-1:00pm. Michael and Caroline are happy to answer questions and help you know your food. “I love feeding people and we love the feedback loop from the market.” Michael says. What are you waiting for? The harvest season is among us! Bootstraps Farm is a proud member of Greenbrier Valley Grown. For more info, visit greenbriervalleygrown.org
Greenbrier Valley Grown, LBSPY 57 (August 25-September 29, 2014)
HASHTAGWV ART & ENTERTAINMENT Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, Christina Entenmann-Edwards has been a WV resident since September 2008. She was born and raised in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and is no stranger to hard work and the entrepreneurial spirit. In 2006, she graduated from Quinnipiac University (Hamden, Connecticut), Cum Laude, with a B.A. in History. In 2010, she graduated with an M.B.A. from Liberty University (Lynchburg, Virginia). In February 2012, Christina launched HashtagWV as the area’s first full-color, free arts and entertainment tabloid + online platform. Christina completed the Leadership West Virginia class of 2021, which is an innovative program that grows, engages, and mobilizes leaders to ignite a life passion to move West Virginia forward.