Bixby Farm’s Roots Still Strong After 60 Years
FARMING FOR A LIVING: Conrad Farms, 7400 E. 151st St. S., has called Bixby home since 1938. The farm grows 60 fruit and vegetable varieties and, starting in mid-July, will have for sale sweet corn, okra, tomatoes, purple hull peas, cantaloupes and watermelons.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
Bixby is, no doubt, home to its share of farming families. One very visible example of that is Conrad Farms, 7400 East 151st Street South.
The history of Conrad Farms officially began in Timberhill, Okla., in 1931 when Chester Conrad purchased his first 80-acre all-purpose farm. Conrad grew up in Kansas on an all-purpose farm, learning the trade from an early age. In 1938, he settled with his wife and four children in Bixby, where he believed to be the best farming land.
Conrad’s sons, Melvin, Eugene and Vernon, carried on the farming tradition. The Bixby Breeze sat down with Vernon to gain some wisdom from this longtime farming family who has kept the farming tradition alive, passing it on to third-and fourth-generation offspring.
BB: What are you currently harvesting?
VC: We just finished, in June, picking sweet onions, English peas, mustard grains, sweet peas, and red and yellow candy onions. The candy onions will continue into July. Starting in mid-July, we begin picking sweet corn, okra, tomatoes, purple hull peas; we grow a lot of cantaloupes, and we have different varieties of watermelons. Both watermelons and cantaloupes will continue through August.
BB: What tomato varieties do you offer?
VC: We grow more tomatoes than anyone else in the area. Our varieties include fried green tomatoes, ripe—which are the slices typically found on hamburgers—cherry, grape, Roma and chocolate cherry—a type of heirloom tomato. This is the first time we are growing and selling the chocolate cherry variety; they look like brown candies. We also sell tomatoes in bushels for those who want to can them.
BB: What are your biggest sellers this time of year?
VC: Sweet corn, tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupes, purple hull peas and okra.
BB: What have customers come to expect from Conrad Farms?
VC: Sometimes when you buy tomatoes from out of state, they are artificially ripened, meaning they have been picked before they have ripened. But our produce is homegrown and vine ripened so when we pick them, they are already ripe.
BB: How big of an operation is Conrad’s?
VC: We grow 60 fruit and vegetable varieties. We typically plant big fields every three weeks. For instance, we do seven plantings of sweet corn with 5-6 different varieties of sweet corn.
Sept. 1-Jan. 1
April 20-May 24
May 20-July 1,
Oct. 20-Dec. 1
June 20-July 20
June 15-July 20
May 20-July 20
June 1-July 1
June 15-Oct. 15
Nov. 1-April 15
June 1-July 1,
Sept. 20-Oct. 20
. PINTO BEANS
June 10-July 10
April 15-June 10,
Oct. 15-Dec. 1
July 1-Sept. 15
May 17-July 10
June 20-Sept. 30
May 10-May 30
(Crowder, Purple Hull)
July 15-Sept. 15
Nov. 1-March 1
(Sweet & Hot)
July 1-Oct. 15
March 20-May 20
June 15-Oct. 15
May 1-June 10
June 15-Aug. 1
Oct 1-Jan. 1
July 1-Sept. 10
July 20-Sept. 10