Lauren Koslow's Green AcresBy Janet Di Lauro Posted: Nov 10, 2008
A la Eva Gabor in the classic 1960s sitcom, GREEN ACRES, farm living has become the life for DAYS OF OUR LIVES' Lauren Koslow. Unlike Gabor's sitcom character, Lisa (at least, initially), Koslow loves it! When she's not on-set emoting as the troubled Kate, Koslow can be found tending to her organic crops and loving every minute of it. She and her husband, makeup artist Nick Schillace, have even started their own company, House of Green Stables.
Soap Opera Weekly: How did this business come about?
Lauren Koslow: We bought property years ago, 20 acres, because we were into horses. I did a lot of horseback riding. My daughter (Milikate) was riding competitively. We were going to build a training facility for horses. So we got the land, and where we live is an agriculture area. We had people coming to our door fairly regularly, saying, "Do you want to rent us your land for growing [crops]?" We were thinking about it. Then we decided: Why don't we give this a try? Why don't we grow, since everyone else wants to rent our land to do it?
Weekly: What do you grow?
Koslow: Organic produce. We started out with orchards. We have avocado and lemon trees. Then we decided to do some pomegranates. We still had a lot of flat land, which is really valuable for agriculture. So we decided to try row crops. We did tomatoes the first year. They were just beautiful. We also grow heirloom squash, cucumbers, beans and watermelons. We're growing peas, too. We try to look for unique flavored varieties. Most importantly, heirloom varieties.
Weekly: Where do you sell your crops?
Koslow: To our local Whole Foods [supermarket], to some area restaurants, and to a consolidator. Some of our tomatoes were used on TOP CHEF, and on some other TV cooking shows. We also sell at farmers' markets. That's kind of trial and error. You have to get a following.
Weekly: Does that mean you are actually at the farmers' markets, selling?
Koslow: I have been there a few times, and my daughter goes. But in all honesty, I don't really think Nick likes having me there. He really sells [the crops]. When the whole family is there, it's like we're interfering. That's his thing, and he has it all worked out.
Weekly: What's your main part in all this?
Koslow: Well, Nick is not a big vegetable eater. So I help in choosing what we grow, going through the seed catalog and picking out the varieties. And I'm the taste-tester for everything, because I love every vegetable ever created. That's my input, in those areas, although I have been outside picking avocados and lemons.
Weekly: So you do tend to the crops?
Koslow: Oh, my gosh! People will ask me, "What are you doing this weekend?" I feel like saying, "You have to be kidding." This is seven days a week. We are watering almost 24 hours a day in different areas. Today, I'm going to be processing vegetables that won't be sold. Instead, we're going to dry them or freeze them. I'm literally going to be cooking all day.
Weekly: Have there been any funny or memorable moments since you started all of this?
Koslow: Our very first crop, the tomatoes looked fairly gnarly. It was a tough summer for them. Yet, the people who loved tomatoes flocked to them, because they looked real. It's almost like a real tomato has a personality. It doesn't look uniform and perfect. I said to Nick, "This is wonderful. All the people who love tomatoes are seeing these and they're like, ‘This is a real tomato.'"
Weekly: Has this been a profitable venture?
Koslow: Well, it's not too profitable yet (laughs). We would like to break even, but the more we learn about the business, the greater the possibility there is to make a profit. When we started to do this, it was an experiment. We really wanted to use the land the way it should be used. Part of what we're doing is a huge statement. We're encouraging people to not only buy organic, but to buy local and support their local farmer and the small farmer. It keeps the small American farmer going, and it's also where you're really going to end up getting the best produce possible. People are overwhelmed by the flavor of real food that is grown naturally and just picked. Literally, we pick it, and it's for sale that day.
Weekly: Do you have any produce customers at the DAYS studio?
Koslow: Actually, I do. James Scott (EJ) is one of my customers. He takes a weekly box of vegetables. He was right on top of it. I brought some in, and he was like, "I'll do this." I have a few other potential customers.