Prior to relocating, we spent four years in Southern Mississippi producing organic produce on a six acre site about 70 miles North of New Orleans.
Our farming operation is small scale by intent. Small scale doesn’t imply “not much production,” it means we want a farming model that others can duplicate without a huge capital investment. You might say we’re authentically local–that is, relevant to our next door neighbors and nearby communities. We want our food to attract people who walk-in, people who can easily reach us by car and people who live in surrounding towns. If what we’re growing doesn’t chime with those folks, if it’s not affordable and healthy, it’s smells of “business as usual,” an excuse to profit off people vulnerable to a broken food system. That’s not us.
Our current operation focuses on organic vegetable production–about six acres worth. In case you’re not accustomed to what a acre is, imagine a football team marching down field from their own goal line to the opponents 20, the edge of the Red Zone. That’s an acre. Now imagine six of those football fields, and that’s the amount of land were planting, cultivating , watering, weeding, mowing, fertilizing and harvesting veggies from. No small task.
When you’re committed to organic mini-farming–organic means no synthetic chemical fertilizers, no pesticides, no herbicides etc–you get two results: a). lots of vegetables and b), personal character development. Don’t kid yourself, organic farming is hard work, the rewards of which are measured more in relationships than dollars and cents.
Right now, we’re integrated into the local food system via a fascinating pattern of relationships. We grow for the families. We grow for selling at farmer markets. We create small town buying clubs and we charitably distribute free veggies to several faith based organizations who run food pantries and congregate meal sites.
Farming in the Appalachian Mountain valleys of central Pennsylvania is the real deal. Some call this region the “Silicon Valley of the sustainable ag movement…and for good reason. Central Pennsylvania is blessed with rich soils and a history of family scale farming the dates back generations.
Challenging? Yes. Interesting? Absolutely. Cows…workshops…festivals…creamy milk…350 acres to explore…people from different cultures…it’s a movement towards food that nourishes both people and place.