Have you ever heard of a “farmlet?” As in, a little, itty-bitty type of farm? It’s a rather adorable word that we think ought to have more currency in everyday language. And, naturally, we have to give credit to its originator: Kat Johnson, aka Kat the Farmer, who lovingly applies the term to her micro-farm set amid the rolling Blue Ridge splendor of rural Floyd County, Virginia.
Kat’s farmlet encompasses a mere quarter-acre of garden beds surrounded by steep-lying woods and sits along a backroad in the unincorporated community of Check, about 20 minutes or so from the charming downtown of Floyd. What is the name of the game here? Well, it’s crystal clear from Kat the Farmer’s official business description: A Salad-Centric Farm & Food Company.
Kat the Farmer launched her “salad-centric” endeavor in January 2021, though she’s been working on organic farms and learning the ins and outs of small-scale agriculture since the age of 15.
“I grow and make things that belong in salads,” she explains. “So everything I grow is tailored to that genre of food and eating. I grow salads, crops, tomatoes, and herbs. I make salad dressings, and I also prepare salad kits, so a fully prepared salad with chopped veggies and dressing.”
Since she started up in 2021, her young operation has taken off successfully—thanks, of course, to a whole lot of hard work on the part of Kat. She’s the embodiment of a “solopreneur” and also someone who genuinely considers the concept of community within her business model.
Growing Greens on a Micro Farm
The Farmlet’s slopeside market garden, solar high tunnels, and little greenhouse produce Certified Naturally Grown greens, herbs, roots, and vegetables that go into Kat the Farmer’s salads, supplemented by other trusted local farmers such as Riverstone Organic Farm, Glade Road Growing, and Garden Variety Harvests.
Kat the Farmer’s customers enjoy the flexibility of what might be considered a full-spectrum salad experience, given this is both a micro-farm and a packaged-food business. They can buy fresh salad crops, for sure, but also avail themselves of Kat’s delish salad dressings: the beloved mainstays Maple Mustard, Herb Garden, and Lemon Garlic, plus occasional seasonal offerings such as Dilly Pickle. (Is your mouth watering yet?)
These creamy, vegan, soy-/gluten-/dairy-free concoctions hail from Kat’s VDACS-licensed home processing kitchen and are inspired (as this Instagram post explains) by the knockout homemade dressings she enjoyed in many a farmer’s kitchen during her years learning the whole working-the-soil craft.
That’s not all, either: Those Kat the Farmer salad kits are ideal for busy folks who crave healthy, nutritious, natural fare in their on-the-go lives. These prepared salads—offered, by the way, in compostable packaging—feature greens, veggies, toppings, and one of the company’s salad dressings.
It’s possible to set oneself up for a week’s worth of fresh, crunchy, flavorful roughage via those kits. “Sometimes people buy a whole stack of them,” Kat explains, “one for each day of the week: take them all home, and they’ve got their work week lunches set.”
What Can Be Grown on a Micro Farm?
Something about making the most out of a small space and getting a small farm to be as productive and profitable as possible. Because of the CNG certification, everything on Kat’s farmlet is grown without synthetics or chemicals, following practices that are in line with the national organic standards.
Gourmet Salad Greens: lettuce mix, mini lettuces, radicchio mix, endive, escarole, spinach, arugula, baby kale and baby greens mix
Microgreens: sunflowers, pea shoots, Spicy Radish, edible flowers, and ‘Salad Confetti’
Cooking Greens: kale, chard
Salad Veggies: cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, radishes, beets, celery, broccolini
Culinary Herbs: parsley, chives, cilantro, dill, sweet basil
Value Added Products: Salad Kits, Salad Dressings, Pesto
Where to Find Kat the Farmer Products
Kat the Farmer sells her lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, and other fresh-picked goodness along with the refrigerated dressings and prepared salad kits directly at the Blacksburg Farmers Market and through CSA-style subscriptions. That’s an arena she’s hoping to expand; indeed, she’s looking to hire a delivery driver to help expand her network.
Given how swimmingly those Kat the Farmer salad dressings—available not only at the Blacksburg Farmers Market but also at some local natural foods and farm stores—have gone over, it’s no surprise Kat’s got an eye toward expanding their availability via more distributors.
Be sure to check out Kat the Farmer’s (beautiful) website—not least her fascinating Farmer Blog, a venue for, among other things, practical farming education, another passion of hers—as well as the company’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. While you’re at it, consider adopting “farmlet” in your foodie lexicon—let’s give this concept some traction!
If you want to learn more about the nitty-gritty, day-to-day business of running a farmlet, check out the podcast episode featuring Kat the Farmer on our sister site, Good Food Marketing With The Virginia Foodie!