About the quilt & barn
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1681 Netcher Road, Jeferson Township.
From Route 11, exit at Route 167; go west toward Jefferson; at sign for A-tech (left side) of road, after crossing Mill Creek, turn left. Continue to sharp right turn; turn left, then go about 400 yards and turn left again, onto Netcher. Go across covered bridge and up the hill; farm is on left.
Mick and Kay Prochko, Covered Bridge Gardens
4X4 Corn and Beans pattern
The Prochko family has farmed along Netcher Road in Jefferson Township since 1936. Mick Prochko’s father, Michael Sr., did general farming, grew pansies for a Cleveland market and eventually found his niche in dairy. Mick followed in his father’s boot tracks, but got out of dairy in 1999, while his son, Steve, was a way at Delaware Valley College.
It was about that time Steve shared with his parents what had become a successful venture for the parents of some of his peers at college. They were converting their former dairy farms to truck farms that grew vegetables, for which there was a strong market in nearby metropolitan areas. In 2000 Mick and his wife Kay planted 100 pepper and 100 tomato plants and get into the truck farm business.
It was a substantial investment: drainage tile had to be installed in the fields, equipment purchased and barns revamped for vegetable cleaning, packaging and storage. Several days a week, a member of the family had to rise early, drive to an urban farmer’s market, sell their produce, tell their story and build relationships.
They signed up partners for a community supported agriculture (CSA), in which the consumer makes an annual investment in the farm by paying for a growing-season worth of fresh produce up front.
Today, their Covered Bridge Gardens has CSA customers from Avon Lake to Erie, Pa. They sell at markets in Cleveland and Ashtabula Harbor, and grow more than 60 different vegetables. The couple discovered that their land was especially well suited for growing popcorn, and they grow enough so they can offer it year around. More than 25 acres are in vegetable production at the farm.
Operated by the family — Mick, Kay and Steve — with hired seasonal assistance, Covered Bridge Gardens is redefining agriculture in Ashtabula County, which is ideally situated between three major metropolitan areas. Several other vegetable growers have followed their example and are successfully converting their farms to capitalize on the locavore food movement.
Read more about the farm’s long history here.