The four greenhouses and barn at Novicky’s Farm, formerly Vicky’s Farm, which boasts tomatoes that are popular in local brewpubs, are clean, empty and ready for the next occupant.
The small operation on Cimarron Drive northeast of the Bend Municipal Airport lasted seven years but faces an uncertain future. The current occupants, Justin Novicky and Emily Hoy, have until Feb. 1 to vacate the premises, Novicky said. The landowner and Novicky’s business partner, Mike Bradford, is putting the 2-acre lot, home and buildings up for sale, Novicky said.
“We’re trying to figure out how to rent for a year, maybe buy 5 acres, hopefully, to build some greenhouses,” he said Wednesday. “That’s my plan right now.”
Novicky, who took over the operation two years ago, grew mostly tomatoes, but some squash, onions and basil, picking up with Hoy, a graphic designer, where Victoria and Wally Roth left off when they retired and moved out of the area. Vicky Roth grew tomatoes to sell at the farm and at farmers markets. Novicky took the operation one step further and supplied brewpubs and restaurants in Bend, including Deschutes Brewery & Public House on NW Bond Street.
“We bought tomatoes from Justin on a weekly basis this past summer for specialty dishes like caprese salads and gazpacho; we found their tomatoes to be especially good for center-of-the-plate features,” wrote Executive Chef Brian Kerr, of Deschutes Brewery, in an email Wednesday. “Our guests enjoy seeing locally grown, high-quality produce on our menus and specials board.”
Kerr said he has several produce suppliers in the area because one can’t supply all the brewpub needs. While he could fill the void left by Novicky’s departure, losing a business relationship with a grower who produced high-quality tomatoes at a good price can be difficult, Kerr wrote.
Novicky said he’s accepted the fact that the operation must leave Cimarron Drive and will probably be out of service at least a year. But he said he’s not given up on continuing the business somewhere else.
Novicky started a gofundme.com campaign to help reorganize the operation at another location, to buy a delivery truck or erect a greenhouse. So far, the fund has raised $4,510 of a $45,000 goal.
“There have been some handsome donations from people; they all mean so much to us,” he said.
Bradford did not return a call seeking comment. Novicky said he and Bradford worked together selling hot tubs in Bend before the Great Recession. Afterward, Novicky went to work in restaurants, he said. Eventually, he said, Bradford befriended the Roths and bought their property when they retired.
Novicky and Bradford teamed up to continue growing Big Dena Beefsteak tomatoes. Novicky said they doubled the farm output and acquired several brewpub and restaurant clients. Novicky also grows a small amount of medical marijuana on the property, which he expects to continue at any new location, he said.
The Roths started growing tomatoes in a greenhouse they obtained in pieces from its previous owner in Maupin, Wally Roth said Friday. The Maupin owner had obtained it from the former Rancho Rajneesh, the 64,000-acre compound occupied by followers of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in Jefferson and Wasco counties. The scandal-ridden compound collapsed in 1985.
Novicky said he worked with Vicky Roth for a year learning how to grow tomatoes. The four greenhouses produce up to 1,275 pounds of tomatoes every week between February and November from about 850 plants total, he said.
Novicky said he has a potential investor and will do what he can to keep the farm going, even if its operation is interrupted this year.
“I think why I’m fighting for this so much, (is) because I got a part of this and just can’t let go of it,” he said. “The mission right now is where the business is going next.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7815, email@example.com