Sandy Creek Farm was established in 1992 when Randy and Ronda Thiessen purchased their farm in Howard County. They began selling at Columbia Farmers Market in 1994 when an excess of iris bulbs turned into a selling opportunity. Growing vegetables and fruit started the next year. Establishing an orchard takes years of planning and time to mature. The couple now grows cherries (both pie and sweet), 18 varieties of peaches, 21 different apple varieties, blueberries, elderberries, paw paws, six types of pears, pecans, persimmons, and plums. They raise chickens for meat and eggs.
Randy and Ronda are in charge of all growing, picking, processing, and marketing at Sandy Creek Farm. A division of labor gradually developed with Randy in charge of planting, pruning, spraying, and maintaining the trees. Ronda handles marketing and manning the booth on market days. They work together to pick all their fruit at the peak of ripeness. Picking starts early the day before market. Then they process and pack it carefully to deliver every product at its freshest.
To ensure only the tastiest fruit gets to market, they watch each fruit type during the growing season as each matures. Ronda said, “When we think a variety is ripe, we sample to be sure. If we like the flavor and consistency, then we pick that variety and deliver it to market.”
The couple looks forward to their Saturday market time together. “We really enjoy seeing our regular customers and the other vendors at the market and catching up with them each week,” Rhonda said. “We like the fact that we can work together and can be outside regularly as part of our ‘job’ while providing excellent quality products to our neighbors.”