Farm fresh produce local to you

Published 4:11 pm Friday, July 1, 2011

“Cody” loves helping to gather the produce! (Contributed)

By NIVA DOROUGH / Community Columnist

Local resident of Westover, Chip Dickinson, is leasing 2.1 acres at the corner of Shelby County 51 and U.S. 280 in the Chelsea/Westover area.

Since he loves the outdoors, he and his wife, Danielle, decided to open a landscape supply company, “Bedrock” in 2007. They were encouraged to go this direction because of the development of Chelsea Park and other subdivisions in the Chelsea/Westover area.

Chip said their first “office” was a small 10-by-10 portable building, with no AC or heat. He saved enough money to build their present steel building. They specialize in palletized rock of all types, as well as a large supply of mulch, sand, pine straw and various other landscaping supplies. Recently, when the economy turned south, they began to explore the possibilities of other forms of potential supplemental income.

Chip always wanted to grow tomatoes, and had a small garden for a few years, which supplied family and friends. His mom talked to Rick Murrah of Flavor-Pic Tomato Co., who encouraged Chip to open a “U-Pick Tomatoes” on the property where he currently rents.

Since they have little acreage, Chip decided to investigate the plastic culture growing method, where a white or black plastic covering is placed over raised rows of soil for one or two years. Black plastic is used in early spring to give plants warmth and white is used in summer to reflect heat. A drip line coming from a “Lay flat” irrigates and fertilizes the plants. You will get almost double the produce by this method. Chip began growing “Bella Rosa tomatoes”, which are a new disease-resistant and heat-resistant variety. He contacted Gary Gray, an agent with the Shelby County Extension Office, who was extremely supportive and helpful.

There have been many challenges. One is that water pressure has to be good. He resurrected an old well to help water the smaller garden.

The project has been a family and friends affair. Mom drove to nurseries to pick up plants, Dad helped plant. A friend, Daniel Shirley, constructed produce stands, and our 1 year old “Cody” loves to ride the tractor to help me.

Chip said they started too late to do U-Pick this year, but is excited to announce he will be selling the tomatoes and other produce at the ”Bedrock” location soon after June 30. Hours of operation are 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Stop in and buy “ Local, farm fresh produce.”

Niva Dorough can be reached at