When asked how many crops grow at Girl & Dug Farm, owner Aaron Choi responds, "At any given point, we'll be jumping around between, about 90 to 110 different things. Depending on the season, almost three-quarters of that will be a combination of greens and herbs." A variety of vegetables make up the remainder.
It is not only the number of crops grown at Girl & Dug Farm that make this farm exceptional, but also the nature of the individual plants. Although greens, herbs, and vegetables may seem like standard fare, it is unlikely you have ever encountered the kinds Choi farms, which include "everything from oca [a Peruvian tuber] to specialty potatoes to weird cucumbers that can be really painful to touch because they're studded with horns."
Choi lists a few vegetables with more familiar names and less intimidating descriptions, explaining in an almost comical way that "carrots are one of the last things we got into."
And that's just in San Diego. Girl & Dug Farm (which is named for Choi's daughter and the family's beagle) consists of two farms, with one location in Southern California and another in Portland, Oregon. The northern location is more focused on fruits, such as pink blueberries, Chilean guavas, blood limes, and yuzu.
Girl & Dug Farm expanded into the Pacific Northwest from its original location in California in 2020, the same year they began shipping their fresh produce to all 50 states. It is an impressive feat, especially considering this occurred in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and that Choi spent the year "remote farming" his land in Portland from hundreds of miles away.
"2005 was when the whole thing got started," explains Choi. "My sisters and I were trying to get our parents out of our original family business, which was a flower shop."
Choi began rigorously tasting and experimenting with various greens and vegetables, starting seeds in trays typically used to grow microgreens, keeping them in greenhouses to carefully control growing conditions.
Instead of retiring, Choi's parents decided to buy a plot of land. Although they originally intended to plant their own flowers for sale, they ended up growing Korean cucumbers and greens.
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