Grass Farming with John Hopkins of Forks Farm

John Hopkins and his wife own and operate Forks Farm. They have been in the local food and grass based meat business for a long time.

Here’s their story in their own words:

In 1992 we grew our first batch of pastured chickens for ourselves and a few friends. Since then our farm has evolved from a simple newsletter and order form for pastured foods to a community-supported farmer’s market. On market day you’ll meet other local farmers who share our desire for locally-grown, chemical-free, nutritious foods.

Through your purchases on market day you become an active participant in the development of a successful, local foodsystem. Every time you buy a dozen eggs here you are not just supporting Forks Farm. Your purchases extend to a dozen other local family farms, providing the glue that holds this local food system together.483774_10151852548008868_1021141084_n

The land of covered bridges

Our 85-acre farm lies just upstream from the “fork” between Huntington and Fishing Creeks here in Columbia County, Pennsylvania. This is also the site of the famous “Twin Covered Bridges,” the only twin covered bridges in the United States. There are twenty-three of these historic covered bridges nestled within the hess bridgerolling hills and farmland of Columbia County. While you’re at the farm, you can walk down to the Josiah Hess covered bridge, built by the Hess family in 1876, the original homesteaders of our farm.

Our Philosophy

Local, fresh, healthy, and sustainable. Our goal is to be your local source for fresh, clean, pastured poultry, eggs, beef, lamb, and pork of the highest quality using sustainable farming methods that contribute to the health of our customers, community and environment.GoatToddSuki

Pasture-raised with no drugs. Our animals grow to maturity on pasture without the heavy grain feeding found in feedlots and confinement facilities today. Pasture raising provides our animals a low-stress, high-quality life, improves the soil, and helps maintain the landscape. We don’t believe artificial fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, growth promotants, hormones and antibiotics belong in our food chain, so we don’t use them.

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Best nutrition for us. Foods raised from naturally-enriched soils and forages without chemical inputs taste better, keep longer, and are more nutritious than the food products you can buy at the grocery store. Our pasture foods are lower in saturated fats, calories, and cholesterol, and are higher in essential fatty acids and vitamins.

2500 Member CSA – Mike and Terra Brownback- Spiral Path Farm

Spiral Path Farm, owned and operated by Mike and Terra Brownback is a 200 acre plus USDA Certified Organic vegetable farm in central Pennsylvania. The Brownbacks recently erected 4 acres of high tunnels on a separate piece of property.

As with every operation I’ve talked with both large and small with Spiral Path it’s all about family. These are forward thinking folks that exude passion for growing vegetable organically. Very good business people, the Brownbacks have evolved Spiral Path into an extremely large and successful vegetable farm.

Spiral Path markets about half of their produce through a CSA concept. The rest of their production is sold via wholesale channels. They started their CSA in 1994.

This is a discussion with two pioneers in the organic vegetable industry who are committed to excellence.

You’ll learn a lot from this one.

 

Brian Snyder- Executive Director, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture

Recently I traveled to State College, Pa for a visit with Brian Snyder. Brian is the Executive Director of The Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture. This “trade association”, focuses on education and advocacy. PASA represents the local, sustainable agricultural movement. It is probably the strongest and largest group of it’s sort in the United States. It is unique because it is primarily funded through member support.

Brian is the driving force behind this organization. He has a thoughtful approach to his points a view. He wields much influence within Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry, the Mid- Atlantic and beyond. I consider it an honor that he took time to talk with me. Thank you Brian.

PASA holds an annual Farming for the Future Conference that is really quite spectacular. This year’s 3 day event, held at The Penn Stater Conference Center in State College, PA will be it’s 23rd. The conference is attended by farmers, friends of farmers and folks in the farming industry. It is loaded with educational seminars about sustainable agriculture. The conference is a winter tradition for many east coast farmers and is typically attended by folks from all over the country and in fact the globe. Attendance is in the thousands.

Over my business career I’ve had the opportunity to go to some powerful conventions including The National Hardware and Home improvement Show, once the largest show in the USA, The National Kitchen And Bath Show, numerous Wholesale lawn and garden shows, Electronics shows and more. I can unequivocally say that the positive vibe and approachable nature of this convention is at the top of it’s class. Quite frankly, it’s really cool.

I am not being compensated for this in any way yet I must say if you are interested or involved in the local food movement, sustainable agriculture in general or even just a proponent of simple living YOU SHOULD GO to the PASA winter conference.