By Cindy Jo Ayers
It is no wonder that a young man who grew up in Trenton, a community steeped in agriculture, has come home to his roots. Scott Osteen graduated from Trenton High back in 1993 and after a stint in the Air Force he returned back to this area. Osteen moved back to the farm where his grandfather, Hezekiah Osteen started in 1921. After his grandfather passed away, Hezekiah’s wife and Scott’s grandmother, Alma Jones Osteen ran a cattle operation by herself on the land from 1953 until 1986.
Then the land passed to her son, Gene Osteen, who for many years ran the Farmers and Merchants Bank in Trenton, now known as Capital City Bank. Scott grew up in Trenton and was a very active member of the Trenton FFA Chapter. He came through Trenton FFA while Herbie Brown and Murphy Everett were advisors. He finished his senior year with Michelle Walker-Crawford as his advisor, and ending his FFA years by becoming a state officer.
Scott, his wife Carrie and sons Noa, 13 and John Carson, 4, moved back to the family farm just outside Bronson four years ago. They live in the home built by Scott’s grandfather in 1938.
With his family farming background it was only natural that Osteen would be drawn back to the farm to raise livestock and vegetables several years ago. Osteen said, “We really wanted to give the public the opportunity to understand where their food comes from.” He went on to say, it is important to have a relationship with your farmer. “We wanted to create a true consumer direct farm, like it used to be, like our parents’ and grandparents’ farms,” he explained.
Two years ago Osteen Farms started selling meats and vegetables at Haile Plantation Farmers Market on Saturdays. Heritage Berkshire pork, heritage Bourbon Red turkeys, smaller meat Cornish cross chickens and laying hens are currently being raised on the pasture at the farm. He reported that his thick sliced smoked bacon has been very popular with customers as well as all three types of sausage.
Osteen says that acre peas were a huge hit with shoppers at the farmers market last season. He also sold them by the bushels to local folks in Trenton and Levy County last spring. He grew Pink Eye Purple Hull peas because that was what he had grown up eating, but soon learned the public wanted Acre peas. Some weeks last summer Osteen Farms sold 50 bushels of peas, selling them either shelled and unshelled. He recently acquired a one row bean picker and plans to add butter beans to the vegetables he will be growing this spring.
Currently he has squash, both zucchini and yellow growing in the winter garden. He also has Salanova lettuce both red and green and broccoli. Rows of mustard, turnips and collards are growing well now also.
Future plans include adding a hoop or tunnel house so that the season is extended for such vegetables as peppers and tomatoes.
When the Spring vegetables begin to come in, he plans to make a delivery to Trenton once a week. Plans are at this time to offer a box of fresh off the farm vegetables similar to a CSA box filled with a variety of vegetables as well as selling peas by the bushel.
Although meat, eggs and a few vegetables were the first items that Osteen Farms sold at the Farmers Market, Osteen soon realized how many shoppers only wanted vegetables. “We sell way more vegetables than I ever imagined we would” Osteen said.
Osteen said many people are looking for a farm experience for their family these days. He hopes to offer that by recently building a Farm Stand to sell produce and meats at the farm. He plans to plant a two acre flower patch so those visiting the farm can cut their own flowers while stopping by to pick up eggs and vegetables. He would one day like to branch out by hosting special events at the farm such as holding an annual cane grinding and syrup cooking event.
Everything on the farm is raised as natural as can be including utilizing chicken manure as fertilizer and two bee hives to provide vegetable pollinators. All animals on the farm are pasture raised, antibiotic and hormone free, any additional feed other than grass is non-gmo.
Osteen feels the farm is a family affair hoping as time goes on his sons will grow into working on the farm and becoming part of the operation. Currently both boys attend school in Trenton and Noa is active in Trenton Middle FFA.
Osteen laughed when he said he might live on Osteen Farms just outside Bronson in Levy, but he will always love Gilchrist.
To learn more about Osteen Farms go to Osteenfarms.com or call Scott Osteen at 352-221-3793.
Osteen Farms a family tradition
By Cindy Jo Ayers