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Albert and Diane Armand
Business: Harper Valley Farms
Market: Columbus City Farmers Market, FairOaks Mall parking lot off 25th Street
The Armands have farmed for more than 25 years and participated in area farmers markets since 2009. In 2010, they joined the Saturday morning Columbus City Market in the FairOaks Mall parking lot just off 25th Street. From picking and sorting produce to caring for the plants they offer for sale, preparing for the market is a family effort. We recently posed some questions to Diane Armand about the family’s participation in the Columbus City Market.
Talk about the process of creating your items, the time, supplies and skills involved.
We start planting some in February through April, but the majority of produce is planted in May and June. Depending on what it is, some items may be harvested as early as April, and the rest throughout the season that ends in November. We strive to use pesticides on our produce only when needed.
How long have you been making/growing/crafting your goods?
My husband started growing produce when he was in high school and his family has had cattle here since the 1940s.
What do you sell?
Over the years, it has grown from produce to fresh, frozen pork and beef, fall garden mums, herbs, perennial plants and Herbtastic Popsicles by our daughter, Lexie. We even provide the sweet corn at the Columbus City Market for roasted corn at the barbecue stand.
What do you like about being a part of the market?
I like the Columbus City Market because all the vendors are expected to grow 90 percent of what they sell. My favorite part of any market is talking with the customers. My favorite experience is when someone comes up and says, “I got your sweet corn last week and that was the best I’ve ever had in my life.”
What types of conversations do you have with the shoppers?
Many have questions about what might be wrong in their garden. Some want to know how our crops are doing. We have a wide range of conversations.
What are the most common questions you get from shoppers?
It depends on what they’re looking at. Most will ask if the beef and pork we sell has any antibiotics or hormones in it. We don’t add any hormones, and the animals only receive antibiotics as necessary.
Do you think people are becoming more interested in locally produced items? If so, why?
Yes. They see a lot in the media that concerns them about what they’re eating.
Is this a hobby for you?
No, this is part of our diversified farm operation. We have a 120-sow, farrow-to-finish hog operation along with some cattle and about 500 acres of row crops.
What are your plans when the market ends?
Sell pumpkins at our farm.
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