Welcome to the third video in our Harvest of the Month: Featured Farmer Spotlight. This Month’s Fun Fact Question is, “What is the difference between direct seeding and transplanting?” In this episode, Patricia-Marie, our Education and Marketing Assistant, visits our featured farmer, Robert Clemmer, at the Project GROWS farm in Verona, VA. The farm is full of sugar snap peas, collards, head lettuce, Napa cabbage, kale, and garlic right now! Robert shows us two different ways that he get his plants started in the spring and the advantages of each option.

Meet Robert Clemmer, the Farm Manager at Project GROWS!

Robert grew up in Staunton and after college spent time working outdoors with conservation programs in northern New Mexico, Arizona, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  After adventuring in Alaska as a dog musher, Robert discovered a passion for farming as an Environmental Educator at the Rock Eagle 4H Center in Georgia, managing the farm at their History site.  In 2018, Robert moved back home and is continuing his farming journey at Project GROWS.

When we asked Robert what he loves about farming, he said, “I love the connection with the land and the connection with the seasons. Seeing all the ecological aspects that are involved is fascinating. I’m also moved by the idea of growing food and feeding others.”

Robert showed us that when you want to grow a plant, you can either direct seed (put the seed right into the ground) or plant your seeds into a tray or pot and then transplant them into the ground when they are seedlings. For many crops like carrots  and radishes, it makes sense to direct seed them because each plant requires a small amount of space and it would be too tedious to transplant! For other crops, like tomatoes and peppers, we choose to transplant, because they require more space, and have a longer growing season. By starting them in the greenhouse and transplanting them in mid-spring, they get a jump-start on their life cycle that normally would not have been able to start outside until after the last frost in mid-May.

Robert showed us some of the produce that he is growing at the farm, including sugar snap peas. Want to try them in a recipe? Check out this Spring Couscous Salad to experiment with adding peas to an easy recipe.