Food is cheap--and grown with heart--at East View Farm

For less than what you would pay at the grocery store or a commercial produce stand, people can buy fresh vegetables at East View Farm on Bayard Road almost year-round.

Coastal Point • Monica Fleming: Alyssa Ziff, above left, tends to some germaniums at East View Farm on Bayard Road.Coastal Point • Monica Fleming
Alyssa Ziff, above left, tends to some germaniums at East View Farm on Bayard Road.

For 15 years, Alyssa Ziff and her husband, Randy Richard, have had East View Farms on Bayard Road near Roxana. The farm boasts about 20 acres of vegetables, and they only sell what they grow on-site. During the course of the growing season, they have beets, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, corn, tomatoes, watermelons, squash, kale, collards, turnips, arugala, cucumbers and spinach. They also have beautiful geraniums for sale, as well as compost, manure, annuals and perennials.

The diversity of their plantings allows them to offer something almost year-round.

“We have things from May to March,” explained Ziff. “So there is always something to eat.”

Although maintaining 96,000 chickens for Mountaire allows them enough free time to grow and sell their crops, the vegetable farming keeps them busy as well.

“Without the chickens, it would be hard to do this,” admitted Richard. “You have to diversify what you grow — that’s the biggest thing, is you need a constant flow of money.”

After visiting a “tourist trap” pig farm in South Carolina with her family at just 8 years old, Ziff knew then where she wanted her life to take her.

“I knew then I wanted to be a pig farmer. And at college, I convinced them to let me raise a pig on the college farm,” she explained.

She studied agronomy at Gottard, a small college in Vermont, and then at the University of Vermont, where she met her future husband. Richard had grown up around dairy farms, and Ziff grew up outside Philadelphia. She worked milking cows to pay off student loans and still holds a deep admiration for the dairy farmers she met.

“Dairy farmers are the hardest-working people. I really have respect for them,” she said.

After college, she and Richard bought their first farm, in Bombay, N.Y., on the Canadian border, where they stayed for 10 years before heading south with their son Ryan, and starting up East View Farms some 15 years ago.

“Our farm is exactly like the one we had up there. Friends would come down here and say, ‘Oh my, this is Bombay South!,” recalled Ziff, laughing.
Coastal Point • Monica Fleming: Ryan Richard gives the thumbs-up as he drives by on a tractor.Coastal Point • Monica Fleming
Ryan Richard gives the thumbs-up as he drives by on a tractor.

Many of their farming methods are done without chemicals — more for their protection than anything, Ziff noted.

“We’re not worried about the world dying from pesticides,” explained Ziff. “We are more worried about our own health and what we would be exposed to. It used to be, for me, everything had to be organic, but the food in this country is very safe.”

Ziff said much of their clientele is older folks, who seem to have an appreciation for home-grown food.

“The older people really realize that everything in life worth doing is going to take some effort — like food. A Hot Pocket ain’t going to cut it,” she said. “It’s an intense business. You never are done. But, there’s nothing worth doing that doesn’t take some effort, and you can really see that with food.”

She leaned down and held up a fresh-cut broccoli crown — “This is $1!” — not-so-subtly alluding to a slogan they like to use at East View Farms: “Our prices are lower, because we’re the grower.”

East View Farms, on Bayard Road, also known as Alternate Route 54, is self-serve from dawn to dusk. They will be participating in the Bethany Beach Farmer’s Market, to be held on Sunday mornings at the corner of Garfield Parkway and Pennsylvania Avenue, starting June 29.