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Blackberry Meadows-2013

ALLEGHENY COUNTY: Community Supported Agriculture, Sustainable Agriculture

Blackberry Meadows is a 150 CSA member farm and they sell at two Pittsburgh farmers markets. They are certified organic through Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO) and primarily grow vegetables but planted 70 fruit trees last year. They also started a heritage seed collective using a grant. Their goal is to bring endangered seeds as categorized by Slow Foods back to popularity. They also sell herbs, flowers, chickens, and turkeys and rent out the farm for weddings.

Jen Montgomery, along with Greg Boulas and two other business partners bought Blackberry Meadows Farm in 2007, but by then they had already been farming there for a year. Jen and her fellow farmers spent 2006 taking over the farm operation, which included organic vegetable production, CSA, and farmers markets, from the Duffs, who had owned the land since 1992. Before the Duffs owned the land, it had been a dairy farm since the 1950s. The Duffs wanted to retire but also wanted the land to remain a farm. They sold the whole operation including 85 acres of land to Jen and her fellow farmers.

Two summers ago, two of the original partners left the farm, but Jen and Greg were soon joined by Nate and Kristin Johanson who started a chicken and turkey operation. They have 2 egg mobiles, which carry 50-70 chickens each.

Their CSA pick-up is set up in their barn like a grocery store where each member picks out their allotment of each vegetable. About 80% of their CSA members live within 15 miles of the farm, and the rest pick up their shares at the farmer’s markets. Blackberry Meadows also has a workshare system where members pay for the CSA upfront and then get their money back when the show up to work.

Jen and company usually have one intern living on the farm and three more that help out. One of the interns will be creating a walking trail in the summer of 2012. Other new additions to the farm include a tree line wind break funded through an NRCS grant and a wood-fired pizza oven. They plan to use this oven for baking sour dough bread as well as having pizza days during their CSA pick-up using ingredients grown on the farm.

For more information on Blackberry Meadows Farm, visit their website:

http://blackberrymeadows.wordpress.com/