Green Pasture Farms is exactly like the image the name invokes. Tucked away in the Starrucca Creek valley of north-eastern Pennsylvania, the mild temperatures and consistent rainfall make for a lush and verdant landscape. It is, in every way, an iconic pastoral farm of old. Chickens pecking in the grass, an enormous red barn full of hay and a quaint farmhouse with a porch for relaxing on at the end of the day. Unlike many farms today, Green Pasture Farms is a place for community as well as agriculture. Situated on what was a certified organic hay field, it is now a working farm full of vegetables, herbs, goats and chickens.
So what are they doing differently? Well, almost everything. Crop rotation, companion planting, cover crops, mulching, minimal tillage, integrated pest management and everything started from seed in their own greenhouse. The chickens and goats are pasture raised, eggs are washed and packed by hand.
A day at Green Pasture Farms starts much like any other, the sun slowly peaks over the hills as fog settles into the field, dew collects on the waist high grasses soaking everyone’s pants. It is quiet as the buckets and baskets are carried into the rows. There is a sense of purpose in the air as they are filled quickly then brought back into the kitchen, sometimes straining under the weight of their load.
Vegetables and greens begin to accumulate in piles waiting to be washed, bundled or bagged. A packing assembly line forms. Bags are filled and labelled placed in coolers and then loaded into a trailer to be delivered to customers in the metropolitan area of Philadelphia. After the packing is finished the farm family sits down together to a lunch cooked by one of their own before heading back out to the fields. There are still tomatoes to be trellised, weeds to be pulled and eggs to be collected.
Green Pasture Farms was started by Brandon Flynn and his partners. After starting a successful farm and farm house restoration company Brandon decided to get into local food. He and everyone at Green Pasture Farms believes in growing food that is good for the body as well as the land. That is why no antibiotics are used on the animals and no herbicides or pesticides are used on the land. Soil fertility is maintained through a diligent composting programme.
One of Brandon’s key ideologies is that he wants to show people that farming can be fun and profitable if the right approach is taken. That’s why Green Pasture Farms is committed to a diverse business model that includes wholesale trade to local restaurants, direct marketing to customers, farm visits, market stands and retail through the CSA and box-scheme. Brandon believes that small farms have to be diverse in order to compete, and that strength and security comes from having healthy, collaborative relationships.
They are working hard to develop the surrounding community – building relationships with neighbours to create a network, develop the market and generate demand for their products. Recognising that they can’t do it all alone they have built capacity by relying on the local community. Their beef and pork are their own animals but they are raised by someone who has more room and expertise. The chickens and eggs are on their farm but they don’t have the room to grow corn for feed so it is taken care of on one of their partner farms. Another participating farm provides milk, cheese and other dairy products such as yogurt or ice cream which can also be included in a CSA share.
Green Pasture Farms and their partners are striving to build a new and sustainable model of organic agriculture that supports the creation of local food networks. To compete with large farms, who have the advantage of economies of scale, smaller farmers will need to develop strong ties to the community as well as diverse offerings. Many areas of the USA are without grocery stores but if farms like Green Pasture can successfully offer fresh products like meat and dairy, as well as fruit and vegetables, then being a small farm can both profitable and of great benefit to the local community.
Sign up to our Newsletter
Stay up to date with the latest SFT views and news