Home Gardeners- You Want to Know Summer Creek Farm!
Recently, the Frederick County Office of Economic Development and Homegrown Frederick staff had the opportunity to visit with Rick Hood, owner of Summer Creek Farm in Thurmont. Summer Creek Farm is a USDA-certified organic operation producing gardening soil mixes and organic vegetables.
Summer Creek’s soil mixes are actually soil-less and composed of a majority of domestically sourced products. Raw materials including but not limited to rice hulls, compost, forest products and coconut fiber are mixed through a conveyor system and then bagged for their customers. Mixes are then marketed and shipped. While the majority of Summer Creek’s soil mixes are wholesaled to Virginia and Pennsylvania, products are shipped up and down the east coast. Surprisingly enough, “Soil mixes are one of the few products that Maryland exports to Pennsylvania,” Rick explained. Some of Summer Creek’s mixes are available in bulk by the pallet or provided in super stacks. Gardeners who have used Summer Creek soil mixes notice less weeding in beds where the products were used. When asked why this may be, Rick told us, “Because these mixes do not use actual soil, they do not contain weed seeds.” Another advantage to using their mixes over a competitor such as Miracle Grow is that their products can be reused year after year. Often times competitor products must be dumped and replaced each season.
Summer Creek’s soil operation came to fruition upon the retirement of their soil supplier. Because of their collaborative relationship, the supplier provided Rick with his formulas, along with encouragement, to do it himself. After three years of research and failures, he developed his first mix. Once he started making mixes for his own gardens, he realized there was a need and niche market he could tap into. Since then he has continued to experiment with different mixes for different uses from raised beds, potted plants, veggies and more. He currently offers about nine mixes but can also make custom mixes for his clients.
Although Summer Creek lost a significant amount of business due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they are forging ahead as they face new challenges. Even though fuel prices impact most agricultural operations, including the soil mixing business, Summer Creek pledges to keep their Multi-Mix garden soils at the same price through May. If you need soil for your garden, head to Summer Creek’s website before prices increase.
Summer Creek Farm has another enterprise – growing produce for Mom’s Organic Markets in Frederick and Roots Markets in Olney, among others. They employ 15 during the peak vegetable packing season. They have their procedures down to a science and are among one of the only produce operations that do not require refrigeration. They know their orders so well, “all produce is sold within 24 hours. We plant, pick, and ship it that way, just in time,” says Rick. Typically, markets end up rejecting about 20% of the produce that comes in, but Rick is proud that he had only one reject all season last year.
If you want to try out one of Summer Creek’s soil mixes or learn where you can purchase their produce, head over to their website for more information or follow them on Facebook. Summer Creek Farm has online ordering available for soil mixes including non-contact pick up on the farm available seven days a week during daylight hours. As always, please remember the importance of supporting your local farmers and small businesses!