Started in November 2012 by Jordan Scheibel, Middle Way Farm is a market garden located just north of Grinnell, Iowa. The farm offers Certified Naturally Grown (since 2022) vegetables, fruits, fresh herbs, flowers, and plant starts for sale seasonally from May through December. Our products are marketed directly to customers seasonally through Community Supported Agriculture shares, our Online FarmStand (since 2020), McNally's grocery in Grinnell, Grinnell Farm to Table, and the Iowa Food Cooperative in Des Moines. We also sell wholesale produce to Grinnell College, Prudent Produce, and through Farmtable Delivery in Harlan. Our Annual Plant Sale is the last weekend in April!
We employ low tech, high yield techniques to produce great tasting food for direct sale to local customers and create a system of production that is sustainable for the farmers, the community, and the environment. We rely on biological processes that are renewable, build soil, and enhance ecological health. We believe in growing better, not bigger. Our size is intentionally small so that we can focus on caring for the land, quality, serving customers, and working smarter, not harder, while enjoying a good quality of life.
The Middle Way is a translation of a term originating in Buddhism. In Buddhism, the Middle Way represents not only transcendence but also reconciliation of the extremes of opposing views. The Middle Way goes beyond the simple notion of rejecting extremes in favor of moderation to something more profound - a realization that extremes are all part of the same spectrum, that opposites are bound together in a whole. Rather than clinging to any particular view, whether its an extreme or moderate one, the Middle Way calls us to be constant students of reality, to work always to see the world as it is, not as we think it is, and to find balance within that world.
Farming is fundamentally a balance between trying to control nature and nature having its way. Skillful management requires understanding both truths and incorporating them into everyday and long-term decisions. In the language of sustainability, truly sustainable businesses take care of the triple bottom line - economic, ecological, and personal sustainability. If any one is missing, the business cannot be sustained long-term. The name Middle Way Farm serves as a constant reminder of the need to balance all these aspects of sustainability and to balance our relationship with the natural processes that are the source of all life and productivity.
At Middle Way Farm, we also strive to serve as a middle path between large, scale industrial production (whether organic or conventional) and small-scale, hobby production. We attempt to incorporate the best practices and lessons of both scales while forging a uniquely middle way as a productive and profitable market garden.
Why Certified Naturally Grown
For many years we advertised ourselves as a "chemical-free" farm, following organic standards to the best of our abilities. While we intended to get certified organic someday, we kept putting that day off. Finally, in 2022, I decided that Certified Naturally Grown would be the best way for us to have third party proof that we were following organic standards while avoiding some of the difficulty we had experienced in getting certified organic. Certified Naturally Grown follows the vast majority of certified organic standards but with less paperwork, less time in transition, and through a participatory, peer certification process.
For us Certified Naturally Grown is a good compromise for now between calling ourselves "chemical-free" and actually being Certified Organic. For many of our long time customers, it makes something they already knew about our farm more concrete. For new customers, especially those who might only know us through a label, it helps to show that we take our organic production methods seriously enough to seek a certification.