Tuesday, November 2, 2010

best of the bunch: schlegel run growers

After a seasonal internship stint with the urban growers of Harrisburg, Joshua Farm, Ben Davies and his wife, Karah, became inspired to merge their agricultural training into their own organic operation, aiming to accommodate local neighbors with a lineup of nurtured and distributed produce perfected in their backyard.

However, searching for an adept backyard became easier than they assumed, and soon, the Davies along with their young son, Ellis, packed up their temporary residence in Harrisburg and traveled back to ben's childhood home in Barto, Pennsylvania.

Tilling up the exterior space of their family's Robin Drive property, the husband-and-wife duo quickly readied for their first CSA (community-supported agriculture) season of 2010, aiming to follow the standards of certified, naturally-grown vegetables and land use without officially being “certified organic.”

Paying homage to the nearby stream that has its tributaries stemming into their petite one-acre farm, the local produce operation is found under the moniker Schlegel Run Growers, appreciating the geographical beauties of Montgomery County. Recently concluding their first growing season, the Barto farmers' celebrated the success of providing 33 shareholders with freshly-picked goods for 20 weeks, becoming bravely educated along the way on the area's temperamental soil, the positive and negative growing conditions, and the success rates of various vegetables' varieties.
“We want to be here; this is our homeland,” said Ben, on setting up shop in the town where he grew up. “It's a healthy lifestyle to support and value your local economy, and it will only continue to grow.”

Ben and Karah Davies, both educated at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School of Lansdale and at Messiah College of Grantham, relocated to Colorado following graduation, where Ben continued his education in graduate religious studies. Situated near Boulder, the green-thumbed couple met with open arms the gorgeous abundance of farmers' markets, farms, and organic lifestyles, uncovering that if they were to premiere their own farm establishment, there was no better time than the present.

“Boulder is an awesome place,” he said. “It is definitely different than Boyertown, but there is a reason why we choose this place. We want to be here.”

Although the Davies conceptualized having their own farm for years, influenced by their experiences with their families' generously-sized gardens while growing up, it was not until December 2009 that they fully considered and embraced a career in cultivating an abundance of crops.
“A lot of our friends dream about growing their own vegetables and running their own business,” Ben said. “and, we [he and Karah] wanted to do something where we would work together and could have our kids running around—that's a big draw for us in wanting to have a farm.”
As active advocates for the local food movement, which they believe is “economically stimulating,” the health-conscious harvesters strategically select specific varieties of crops in order to give their shareholders versatile 10-pound, freshly-picked packs of their grown goods.

From a fine assortment of fennel, bok choy, kale, and Swiss chard, to heirloom tomatoes, yellow squash, eggplant, broccoli, beets, beans, carrots, turnips, salad mix, and more, each week's bountiful bunch highlighted an attractive array of high-quality, small-scale farming, provided aside recipe recommendations and suggested cooking preparations.

In addition to manning one of the county's most envied vegetable gardens, as well as a miniature vineyard, apple orchard, and a Davies-constructed greenhouse, the Schlegel Run Growers also strive to offer mindful classes on nutrition and health in the coming seasons—which particularly pertains to Karah's concentrations in college.

“We continue going through the learning process,” Ben concluded. “It is our dream to live a simple life, living off the land.”

Also published on news, not blues, where they are hosting a giveaway for a chance to win one potted herb plant (your choice of rosemary, sage, or parsley). Click here to comment, contest ends Novemer 7th.