Natural outgrowth

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From front, Ryan Crocker, Alicia Gray, Ingrid Dunn and Roberto Rodriguez paint a trailer for Johnson’s Backyard Garden earlier this month in Denton.
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Earthwise Produce merges organic farm with Austin company

The selection of fresh tomatoes, garlic stalks and peaches on display at Earthwise Produce are all still organically grown in Denton, but the selection has started to expand thanks to a recent partnership with Johnson’s Backyard Garden in Austin.

In March, owner Ryan Crocker and manager Christina Trevino sold Earthwise’s farm and community-supported agriculture program to Johnson’s Backyard Garden to help expand the urban farm movement in Denton. Crocker is still the farm manager, and still harvests with the help of Denton volunteers.

“We get a lot of support now with our market garden here,” Crocker said. “We get transplants, fertilizer and compost and things like that from the Austin farm, so it’s allowed us to expand our production pretty significantly.”

With the growth in production, they have already been able to expand to the Coppell and Dallas farmers markets under the Johnson’s Backyard Garden name because they are able to produce more.

There has been some confusion with the merger, though, Trevino said. Longtime customers thought the shop was sold as well and Crocker and Trevino weren’t operating the farm, and others have been confused at the different farmers markets.

“There’s confusion, I think, when it comes to half-mergers because we kept the shop as Earthwise,” Trevino said. “Earthwise is just the retail brand now.”

While the confusion hasn’t hurt sales, Trevino and Crocker are hoping customers start to understand why the partnership is beneficial for the local business and for residents who value local organic produce.

The partnership has allowed Crocker to start looking at more land in Denton to expand and add another 5 to 10 acres this fall, and get to the point where they need farm equipment to expand the produce offerings and his knowledge of urban farming.

Currently, they have about one full acre of crops grown in Denton.

“It’s helped a lot too because Brenton [Johnson], who owns JBG in Austin, is one of the best farmers I know,” Crocker said. “Just the knowledge and support from him has been a massive help, because I’m still learning a lot.”

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.

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