King's Crown Organic Farm
A third generation farmer and rancher, Nate Jones of King's Crown Organics is a leader in the Idaho organic farming community. In 1987, Nate took over his father's farm and started the transition to organic production and certification, and later became a founding vendor of the Ketchum Farmers Market. Today, King’s Crown is a flourishing 700-acre diversified farm and ranch feeding organic eaters locally and across the nation.
What regenerative farming practices do you use at King’s Crown?
We follow the philosophy of having no bare ground on our farm: we plant cover crops to ensure that organic matter is always returned to the soil. We just recently incorporated multi-species pasture into our row-crop rotation. This allows us to rotationally graze our cattle and cycle all nutrients back to soil. We know that all crops grown after the pasture is taken out will be more vigorous and healthy.
We heard you have a geothermal greenhouse. Can you explain what it entails and what you’re hoping to grow in yours?
Our geothermal greenhouse brings air up from beneath the greenhouse: relatively cool air in the summer and relatively warm air in the winter. This allows us to keep fruit trees, including lemon, lime, grapefruit, pomegranate, fig, olive, mango and avocado, alive year-round. Originally, we thought we would use the greenhouse for starts for our market garden, but thus far, we’ve just been growing vegetables, such as spinach, bok choy, tomatoes, basil, carrots, beets and more, for our household. We also grow toads in the spring and spiders in the summer! We’re still learning how to manage some of the unwanted pests naturally: there has been a steep learning curve to growing in a greenhouse, and we’re still making our way up!
How long have you been coming to the Wood River Farmers Market and what’s your role in its continuation?
King’s Crown is an original vendor; this is my 20th year as a vendor. This is my second term at being on the market’s board of directors. I would like to help ensure that there is always a place for the market in the Ketchum area.
Have you taken any measures to ensure your property remains farmland for future generations?
My siblings and I are committed to keeping the family farmland property kept as a single unit and passing it on to the next generation. We are not interested in developing the land.
How can our community best support regional farmers/ranchers like you?
I believe a commercial food storage and processing building would be very helpful. I also encourage people to “know your farmer” and “buy local.”
Who is your food hero?
I have many local food heroes such as Janie Burns of Meadowlark Farm, Mike Heath of M&M Heath Farm, Clay and Josie Erskine of Peaceful Belly Farm, Tim Sommers of Purple Sage Farms, and James Reed of Onsen Farm. These people all have a passion for and a commitment to local food. Their activism, energies and efforts will be felt in southern Idaho for years to come.
What’s your favorite meal made with local ingredients?
A King’s Crown ribeye, baked potato and grilled summer squash, green salad with fresh tomatoes, finished with my wife’s homemade ice cream.
What’s your vision for the future of food and farming in southern Idaho?
I’d like to see more grazing integrated into what is presently row-crop agriculture, or other regenerative practices that will improve the health of everyone’s land. I’d also like to see more small-scale local processing for crops and livestock that are raised in Southern Idaho communities.
What food system change would you most like to see in the Wood River Valley region?
I’d like to see a local food storage/processing area, as well as a viable distribution system for the winter and/or storage crops that we grow.
Photos courtesy of: Guy Hand