This week I met my farmers, and I walked the ground where my spring, summer, and autumn vegetables will grow. We joined a CSA this week, so we will be receiving regular bags full of produce—from mustard greens to watermelons to butternut squash and virtually everything in between—from a tiny but growing farm in Willow Street called Blue Rock Farm. And the farmers, Caitlin Brady and EmmaKate Martin are not what you’d expect.
Caitlin Brady, 22, is the creative force behind the Blue Rock Farm. She was raised in Missouri on a 2000-acre farm that grew corn, soybeans, sorghum, and tobacco, using large machinery and production-farm techniques that are common to business farms all over the country (not that there is anything wrong with that). She’s been to five different colleges (currently Millersville University as a foreign-language major—Spanish, French, and Italian), she’s lived in several countries; and in big cities (Chicago) and small farming communities like Lancaster.
Caitlin started Blue Rock a couple of years ago and sold her products at several of the local farm markets—this year she will have a stand at the Eastern Market on East King Street on Saturdays.
EmmaKate grew up on the land she and Caitlin are currently farming. In fact, the land has been in her family for 6 generations. She graduated from Penn Manor High School and is now working the same land her father and her grandfather did, and further and further back. EmmaKate is also passionate about the land we all live on, and works with a volunteer organization that holds concerns for the environment as acts of faith.
In a conversation with her spry 94-year-old grandfather, Park Mellinger, the other day, he told me how pleased he was that she and Caitlin were doing this kind of work. He told me that the plot they were currently working in was plowed under for planting for the first time since 1899—it’s been backyard to the farm house for generations.
Blue Rock farm is totally organic; the fertilizer is compost and the water is rain water collected in large containers all over the property and fed into the gardens through drip hoses. Caitlin and EmmaKate are making a serious go of this small family farm, currently having 15 half- and 6 whole shares in their CSA, which will deliver food weekly to three Lancaster County locations. A limited number of shares are still available.
The New York City chef Dan Barber, a loud and passionate advocate for small, local, organic farms—he runs one himself in upstate New York that produces for his restaurant—encourages consumers to “get to know your farmer and your fishmonger,” so that you will know exactly where your food comes from and on what it’s been raised.
I have gotten to know my farmers and I, for one, couldn’t be happier. I know that my family will be eating some of the best, healthiest food available in Lancaster County, a place where there is more healthy food (and some pretty unhealthy stuff, too) than almost anywhere else in the nation.
Blue Rock Farm. Check it out!