We are a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm, featuring fresh, in-season vegetables. The farm is owned and operated by Ben Hartman and Rachel Hershberger. We have a son, Arlo, born on June 7, 2014.
We grow organic food in the soil year-round. In addition to our CSA program, we sell at the Goshen Farmers Market as well as to area restaurants and the Maple City Market Food Co-op. We use a lean production system which focuses on delivering to customers as much value as possible while eliminating waste on our farm.
Meet Ben, Rachel, and Arlo
Ben grew up in LaGrange, Rachel in Goshen. While we have lived for stints in other places, northern Indiana is our base and our home.
Rachel graduated in 1999 from Goshen College with an Interdisciplinary degree. After graduating, Rachel worked for one year at Jubilee Partners in Comer, Georgia, in their large community garden, where she learned how to grow food for a lot of people. More recently, for two years, Rachel was manager of the Goshen Farmers Market. She also worked several years at Goshen Middle School.
Ben graduated from Goshen College in 2001 with degrees in English and Philosophy. After college, between stints of construction work, running a drywall business, and remodeling a house, he worked for four summers at Sustainable Greens, an organic greens and vegetable farm in southern Michigan serving Chicago fine dining restaurants.
We met in college and were married in 2003. We opened our booth at the Goshen Farmers Market in 2006 while we lived in Goshen, and rented farmland for our first three growing seasons. We learned a lot in those years about growing systems, marketing, and about the kind of infrastructure we would want on a farm of our own.
In 2008, we purchased our current farm at auction.
Our farm has a lot of small outbuildings, including two chicken houses, a wash house, a beautiful post-and-beam barn, and of course an outhouse. The farmhouse is newer as the original house burned in a fire.
The farm is located between Goshen and the farmstead in LaGrange where Ben grew up.
Our son, Arlo, is fascinated by leaves and soil and twigs. We are grateful for his addition to our farm.
In the future we hope to grow our CSA program, get to know our customers and their children better, and continue to learn about growing food all year long, not just in the summer.
How we farm
We use organic growing methods. To us this means more than staying away from chemicals. It means working with nature to create growing systems that are deeply sustainable, relying on local, on-farm inputs as much as possible, and with a goal to increase farm biodiversity. Through farming, we want to clean up–not dirty–our rivers, and filter–not toxify–the air we breath.
We grow on clay, as our name suggests. Clay can be very rewarding if we treat it right. We do not work it wet and we minimize compaction whenever possible. Heavy additions of organic matter is a must. In return for careful attention, clay soils can grow crops with dark, green leaves and a high nutrient content.
We use human scaled technology. Much of our cultivation is done by hand or with small machines. We are always striving for solutions that increase efficiency, work towards sustainability, and improve the nutrition of our crops.
One of the core challenges facing growers in the local food movement is being able to provide fresh crops year-round. We push the edges of our growing season through the use of greenhouses and cold frames (unheated greenhouses).