In The News

Van Weldon in the Houston Chronicle

Van Weldon in the Houston Chronicle

Van Weldon owner of Wood Duck Farm holds a flat of Celosia as he and his employees prepare for their “Farm Fall Festival”, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, in Cleveland. Weldon sells his farm goods at the Saturday Urban Harvest Farmers Market and is opening his farm to the public each weekend in October and the first weekend in November for a fall festival. See...
Wood Duck Farms in the Cleveland Advocate

Wood Duck Farms in the Cleveland Advocate

A late seasonal freeze can be a devastating blow to farmers whose livelihoods depend on the sale of produce. This is why many corporate farms, which sell mass quantities of corn, soybeans and other products, have resorted to the use of genetically modified seeds when planting a harvest. Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are designed to affect the genetic make-up, or DNA, of a crop. This alteration can result in produce that is resistant to freezing, pests or simply grows faster. Crops that can be saved from unforeseen destruction have value in some people’s eyes, but not everyone agrees. The controversy of the impact of genetically altered food on the health of the consumer has strong opponents on each side. “Nobody really knows the long-term ramifications,” explained Van Weldon, the owner of Wood Duck Farm (WDF) in Cleveland. The consumer’s organic movement in search of purchasing as many natural products as possible for consumption has positively impacted small, local farms such as WDF. Currently, WDF is not open to the public and doesn’t operate a pick-your-own produce outfit, but they do grow a variety of crops for restaurants, the farmers market and a popular CSA program. Read the rest of the article at the Cleveland Advocate:  Food fight: Cleveland farm steers clear of genetically altered...
Wood Duck Farms in the Houston Press

Wood Duck Farms in the Houston Press

In 1982, Van Weldon, a young salesman adept at buying rounds and selling tractors in Abilene bars, dropped out of business school and set out to dig up some money. In those days in West Texas, plowing corn rows grew a few dollars, but digging deeper often uncorked a black geyser. Weldon knew oil acquaintances who regularly vacationed in Las Vegas one weekend, then Santa Fe or Palm Springs the next. “Here I was, making $22,000 a year,” he recalls, “and I was thinking, ‘I’d like to do that, too.’ ” Weldon’s oil business was short-lived. Crude prices tanked, so he followed the signs for Rolex watches and high-end hairspray to Dallas and became a stockbroker. Dallas led to New York, where by 1988, he was a player in the finance capital, delivering orders for energy futures to the pit on Wall Street. He controlled a half-million dollars in commodities within four years. To mark his success he bought a Saab 900 convertible with cash. Then the trade winds shifted, and Weldon’s career began to drift. The firm lost millions and laid him off. He briefly restyled himself in boom-time Houston as an energy broker for another corporate giant, Kidder Peabody. But after a fellow employee falsified nearly a billion in trades, the firm collapsed. Weldon’s frayed luggage might have carried him elsewhere. “But if the company went under again, I still would have been in that same box,” he says. “So I thought it was time to create my own business, and either succeed or fail.” Weldon was living at the time with his wife on 45 acres...