The farmers– Nicolas Donck was born in Belgium and moved here to this land in Georgia when he was 16. He just recently became a dual citizen of Belgium and the USA. He graduated from UGA with a degree in international business but quickly realized that his heart belonged to farming. Crystal Organic Farm was started (initially as a garden) by his mother, Helen Dumba, who lives on the 175 acres where the farm resides. Helen is also responsible for the farm’s flowers.
Many years before moving here, and far before most of the rest of the world, Helen pursued a knowledge of organic gardening and naturopathy. She has been helping people with her great knowledge of nutrition and alternative healing ever since.
Nicolas and Helen were 2008’s Land Stewardship Award recipients at the GA Organic Conference.
The farmer’s wife, Madeline Rains – Former theater director and actress, having always lived in major northeast cities, I met Nicolas while doing theater in Atlanta with my father and brother. My plans to move on to directing in Seattle were swept away. I became a farmer, then a wife and then, a mother. Now, I cook, write and take pictures but mostly facilitate the passions of our kids. Having fun with them and enabling them to be out of school are my primary goals.
Gillen – Almost sixteen years old, Gillen frequently chooses to work at the farm. He is also passionate about horses and volunteers for a local guy who owns horses almost every day.
Jesse – Almost thirteen years old and passionate about books, games, playing violin and ice hockey. Occasionally Jesse is also excited about putting in a day of hard work at the farm. He often goes with Nicolas to work on Saturdays at the market.
The farm – Crystal Organic Farm gets its name from the quartz crystals which can be found coming out of the ground here. Some think that they contribute to the soil’s good fertility. I don’t know about that. I do know that Nicolas’ passion for what he does and his ability to attract good help have played a big part in the farm’s success. Sweat equity, perseverance and the decision to invest in high tunnels are also important factors.
Where our vegetables go: We helped to found the Morningside Farmers Market and have customers that have been there with us for fifteen years. We also sell to Whole Foods Markets all over the city, and to several top Atlanta chefs (including Anne Quatrano of Bacchanalia, Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene and Kevin Rathbun of Rathbun’s).
While we do donate food every week, our goal is to grow enough that we can help make organic more universally accessible; and we want to donate on a bigger scale.