A productive farm need not be huge.

We grow our food on 1/3 acre of land.


The Farmers

Rachel Hershberger and Ben Hartman

Rachel Hershberger and Ben Hartman started Clay Bottom Farm in Goshen, IN, in 2006. In her spare time, Rachel enjoys jewerly-making and cooking with fresh food. Ben enjoys pottery and plays a mean saxophone. We have two sons who delight us, inspire us, and motivate us to be efficient with our time. 

Nicole Craig

Nicole Craig has been Clay Bottom Farm's assistant farm manager since 2019. She lives in Goshen, IN with her husband and two daughters and is slowly converting all their yard into gardens. She enjoys exploring beaches along Lake Michigan, backpacking, and knitting. In this growing season, she aspires to pick kale bunches as fast as Rachel. 

Andrew Ness

Andrew Ness is a senior at Goshen College, entering his final year as a sustainable food systems and history double major. Originally from Oregon, he grew up surrounded by organic agriculture and farmers markets. In his free time, Andrew enjoys hiking, cycling, swimming, metal sculpting, and reading. 

Sierra Ross Richer

Sierra Ross Richer is a senior at Goshen College, wrapping up her final year as a journalism student. She has called several places home including Goshen, Ecuador, Peru, and Northern California. She loves writing, being outdoors, hacky sacking, slacklining, cooking/baking, growing food, camping, dumpster diving and biking. 


Lola the Australian cattle dog is a recent addition to Clay Bottom Farm. She loves to play in the water, chase groundhogs, supervise farm work, and is loved by all who visit the farm. In her free time, she enjoys long naps. 

The Farm

Clay Bottom Farm is an urban farm, set on the north edge of Goshen, IN. All of our food is sold with 1.5 miles of the farm. The building pictured is a barn-house that includes a propagation house, processing room, guest apartment, and living quarters.

We use two greenhouses to produce food year-round, and a 2-step no-till bed preparation process:

1. Start with 4" of compost. Don't till it in--leave it on the surface.

2. Add 1" of compost in the fall (every 2 years).

That's it! We don't use shipped-in fertilizers, just our own compost.


Here's how we make compost, in three steps: 

1. Collect carbon from as close to home as possible: spent microbrewery grains, leaves, grass clippings, and poultry manure. The more diversity the better. No more than 1/3 should be fresh manure or greens. Most of our compost is leaves.

2. Build a heap about 9' wide x 6' tall x 50' long (basically, as big as we can make it). 

3. Turn three times (a skid loader is handy). As long as there were no weeds in the raw materials, there is no need for lots of turns.

Paper pot transplanting. We helped pioneer the use of the Japanese paper pot transplant method in the US. Plants are grown in paper chains, which unravel as the transplanter is pulled along, transplanting 264 seedlings in 40 seconds. 

We transplant the following crops in paper pots: green beans, basil, turnips, beets, head lettuce, romaine, and green onions. Many crops, like hakurei turnips, grow well with 3 or 4 seeds per cell. 

Paper pots are permitted for organic use in the US but not in Canada or the UK. However, a hemp fiber chain is under development with the goal of passing organic requirements globally.

We use paper pot products from smallfarmworks.com, johnnyseeds.com, and paperpot.co

We recommend trying the tool if you are currently transplanting more than 2,000 plugs per year.

The Vegetables

Our best-selling crop: spring mix. Here is our specific recipe:

SUMMER: Muir, Salanova red sweet crisp, and Rubygo. These all grow as heads, transplanted with the paper pot transplanter 6" apart, and then harvested with a Farmers Friend greens harvester.

WINTER: Mizuna, Tokyo bekana, Red Cloud, Gazelle spinach (spinach is 1/2 of the mix, and we sell it separately as well). These are direct-seeded same as above and grow on 5'-wide beds, directly into compost.


Other Varieties at Clay Bottom Farm

Our second best-selling crop is tomatoes. We seed several times starting February 1 through April 15 to ensure a long harvest.

Our best-selling tomatoes: Margold and Marnuour (pictured right)

Our best red slicer: BHN-589

Our best yellow slicer: BHN-871

Our greenhouse cherry tomato mix: Clementine, Mountain Magic

Learn about Clay Bottom Farm's Masterclass

On the left in the photo are indeterminates growing with two leaders. We "lean and lower" each plant three times each season. 

Next are semi-determinates and cherry tomatoes. Look closely and you see twine woven between stakes, holding up the plants. 

On the right are determinate tomatoes. 

Lettuce grows between young tomato plants to maximize space. 

High-CBD Hemp

In 2019 we started growing hemp (cannabis with less than .3% THC). We add 36"-wide beds of no-till hemp into our existing vegetable rotations, with 6' between plants. From a botanical perspective, cannabis is the most incredible crop we have ever grown: its biomass production outpaces any other crop; and it is aromatic, beautiful, and incredibly utilitarian--as a medicine, high-protein food, and fiber. We sell CBD tinctures at the Goshen Farmers Market and through the Maple City Market in Goshen, IN. We developed a course that teaches through 18 video lessons how to grow great hemp on a small scale. 

Learn more about our hemp course


Baby Greens

Arugula: Astro

Bok choi: Joi choi

Pea shoots: Austrian field peas

Microgreens: Radishes, red mizuna, Tokyo bekana


Bunched Roots

Carrots: Napoli

Turnips: Hakurei

Radishes: Rover

Red beets: Red Ace

Golden beets: Touchtone gold


Full-Size Greens

Head lettuce: Muir, Hampton

Kale: Black magic, Winterbor, Mamba


Other vegetables

Green beans: Jade

Fennel bulb: Orazio

Rhubarb: Canadian red

Pink ginger: Big Kahuna

Garlic: Music

Edamame: Beer friend

Cucumbers: Corinto

Summer squash: Dunja

Butternut squash 

Sugar snap peas: Super sugar snap

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