Curt Hickey seems to be able to propagate almost any plant, taking a cutting from almost anything and starting a new plant from it. Vegetable, herb or flower — he possesses what some call the magic touch.
“He gets mad if I bring home flowers purchased from a nursery,” says Nancy Vitarius, his wife and No. 1 fan.
“He says, ‘Why did you do that? I could have started that for you.’”
Guests at the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market are lucky to witness the weekly culmination of Hickey’s plant-speak proficiency as Curt’s Crops. Each Saturday, Hickey puts forth a brilliant display of lovingly and attentively grown vegetables.
“You name it, Curt grows it,” Vitarius says. “Potatoes, squash, garlic, green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts…”
Hickey possesses a particular enthusiasm for hot crops, or warm-season vegetables that depend upon both warm soil and high temperatures. By bringing a multitude of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers to Sequim City Hall’s plaza, Curt’s Crops has established a unique niche in the Sequim market family.
“We’ve found that people really come to our booth expecting those warm weather vegetables,” Vitarius says.
A recent addition to the market as of this season, Hickey and Vitarius say they appreciate the unique opportunities the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market provides to local farms.
“It’s a good outlet for people to share their love of growing,” Viatriu says. “Customers know where your produce is coming from and they know that it’s fresh and not being shipped a thousand miles or wasting valuable resources to get to them.”
Curt’s Crops originated in Bozeman, Mont., where Hickey ran an established organic mixed vegetable operation that provided fresh produce to markets, co-ops and restaurants.
In alignment with his love for local food, Hickey primarily worked as a fly fisherman guide, leading river fishing tours along the Yellowstone River every day throughout the summers. Vitarius worked as an administration assistant.
After raising two sons, Hickey and Vitarius chose to move to Sequim, led by Hickey’s passion for farming prompted. He was drawn to the long growing season and temperate climate of the Olympic Peninsula, relishing the opportunity to cultivate a more diverse array of vegetables.
Upon his arrival to Clallam County, Hickey initially centered his growing practices around producing food for just the couple.
“The problem is, he really doesn’t know how to grow for just two people,” Vitarius says, laughing. “So that’s where I said, ‘You know what, now you have the time. I know you didn’t plan on growing commercially anymore. But we should try selling what we have here in Sequim.’”
The couple discovered a renewed passion towards commercial vegetable production.
Curt’s Crops uses no-spray, organic growing practices, with Hickey prioritizing thorough crop rotation, soil health, hand weeding and tilling, and seed-saving.
Prompted by their following garnered in their first season with SFAM, Curt’s Crops is looking forward to the future with goals of expanding their offerings next season, with a focus on continuing to meet the needs of the Sequim community.
Supporting small food producers is more important than ever. The Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market is thrilled to witness the expansion of local food producers and invites the community to lend support to these efforts by visiting Curt’s Crops, and the rest of the SFAM vendor family, every Saturday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market, located at Sequim Civic Center plaza.
Emma Jane Garcia is Marketing Manager for the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market. See www.sequimmarket.com.