Todd Nichols is the head grower at Nichols Farm and Orchard in Marengo, Illinois, about 65 miles northwest of Chicago. Founded in 1977 by Todd’s parents, Nichols Farm currently produces about 260 acres of vegetables and forty acres of apples. Nichols Farm markets to some 200 restaurants, fifteen farmers markets each week, and a 450-member CSA.
Todd digs into what a farm this size looks like, and the sorts of investments they’ve made in equipment and infrastructure to ensure that they can complete the large amount of work that often needs to be done in a short period of time. We talk about the low-density approach to cropping at Nichols Farm, the workflow they use to provide outstanding service to their restaurant and farmers market customers, and the ways their four different farming locations create advantages for disease management and coping with the weather.
Nichols Farm is certified to the Food Alliance Sustainability Standard, but is not certified organic. Todd shares his reasons why, how he farms differently because of it, and some of the other ways that Nichols Farm has taken a green approach to their agricultural production.