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Earthy. This is a word that Mary Cottone used to describe herself.After a brief encounter, one could easily assess that this is true.Mary not only grows vegetables and seedlings for sale at the co-op,but she has a passion for it that exceeds a business transaction.
Eight years ago Mary began her journey in farming and agriculture when she interned for the Center for Environmental Farming Systems in Goldsboro, NC. This is a division of NC State University. She later managed vegetable production, interns, and CSA(Community Supported Agriculture) programs at several farms including Fulton Farm for Wilson College and most recently Evensong Farm in Sharpsburg.“
It is a learning process”, Mary says of farming. After 8 years, she is still finding challenge in the details. When asked about challenges,Mary replied, “It’s humbling. One thing that I need to realize is that there are some things I cannot control. I could have a hail storm tomorrow and lose it all.” Yet, she does not let those challenges hinder her. She is learning that is all part of the natural process. Interestingly, Mary has created a natural reminder of her place in nature and has assembled stones at the base of a large old tree that sets beside where she cultivates her plantings. During busy harvest days Mary tries to pause for a moment and show gratitude for the bounty that comes from nature and the land. “I try to remember to harvest a little bit of each crop to give back to nature.”
Also, self-described as meticulous and organized, she is careful to explain how everything that she does is an effort to keep the balance of nature. For those interested in her vegetables and seedlings for purchase, you can rest easy knowing that she has encouraged healthy growth for the plant as well careful sustainability for the environment. Her gardening practices include creating healthy soil with a compost mixture and cover crops, rotating crops, avoiding synthetic pesticides, and encouraging beneficial insect habitats to name just a few.
A firm believer in buying local, Mary admits that many people join the co-op for different reasons. However, there can be a like-minded spirit with others who support natural foods and local farmers and businesses. “It is important to know who produces your food and how it is produced.” This is something that Mary believes is better found within a local co-op setting.
When time allows, Mary enjoys her personal time in nature as well with some hiking and swimming or reading about farming practices.She is currently reading The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka , a Japanese writer/farmer. Mary is well-traveled and has benefited from seeing other cultural farming practices. She recalls her travels to Belize where the food was tasty because it was fresh and extremely local. This is something that she is incorporating in her lifestyle here as well.
A visit with Mary is educational and intriguing. Although there is much more to be said about her, you just have to meet her for yourself. She encourages others to get to know her, her business, and help you to learn from what she has already discovered. “Education is part of what I want to do for others,” Mary says. She certainly has the knowledge and humility to accomplish this.
Welcome to the co-op as a supplier, Mary. We are blessed to have you!
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Valley Co-op Stats
as of 6/2/15
Total Number of Members: 628
Volunteering Members: 26
THANK YOU FOR GROWING WITH US!
New Members Since 1/1/15: 140
Total Number of Members on 6/2/14: 176
Members gained since then: 452
(240) 329-2395 · 25 West Church Street, Hagerstown, MD · ©2017 Valley Co-op