We are a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm, featuring fresh, in-season vegetables and fruit. The farm is owned and operated by Ben Hartman and Rachel Hershberger. Our farm has gained recognition because we have developed a greenhouse production system that allows us to 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.
Meet Ben and Rachel
We both grew up in the area—Rachel in Goshen and Ben in LaGrange.
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 good food for a lot of people. More recently, for two years, Rachel was the Manager of the Goshen Farmers Market. In the off-season, Rachel tutors 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.
Late in 2008, we started looking for farmsteads and purchased our current farm at auction later that year.
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, the original house burned in a fire.
The farm is located between Goshen and the farmstead in LaGrange where Ben grew up.
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. We also want to develop our art interests and set up studios.
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–systems that rely on local, on-farm inputs, and that 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 a very rewarding soil if we treat it right. We do not work it wet and we minimize compaction whenever possible. Cover crops and mulch are a must. In return for careful attention, clay soils can grow crops with darker, greener leaves–and more nutrients–than other soil types.
We use appropriately scaled technology. Much of our cultivation is done by hand or with a two-wheeled walk-behind tractor. We are always striving for solutions increase efficiency, work towards sustainability, and improve the nutrition of our crops. As new farmers, we recognize that we have a lot to learn from other farmers both new and old in each of these areas.
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). We are excited by what we are seeing and want to continue to stretch the boundaries of the traditional June-September growing season.