Kretschmann Organic Farm and CSA
    Organic produce, Locally grown

FRESH FROM THE FARM--DIRECT TO YOU   The Kretschmann Farm provides Pittsburgh area customers with organically grown produce, fruits, and meats. We offer subscriptions to be delivered to your neighborhood or business. This convenient arrangement has become known as CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). 
   
 
 
 

 

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The Farm: Who, What, and Where

Becky and I (plus many other helpers) have been providing Pittsburgh area customers with organically grown produce, fruits, and meats since 1971. Our 80 acre family farm is located near Zelienople, about 35 miles north of the city. We also cooperate with several area farms, some close neighbors, and a wonderful group of Amish families to our north who have been farming organically. This assures an even steadier and more varied supply of produce while promoting the growth of organic production in western PA.

One of the first organic growers in western PA over 30 years ago, we have always grown strictly organically and are certified organic with OEFFA. We believe in no magic formulas, just encourage life everywhere we can. We fertilize most heavily with the farmer's footsteps, keeping our operation diverse and simple. We try to give service and value to our customers and to stay humble enough to change. We have always felt our organic produce should be able to compete well with conventional in both price and quality. We feel we give our customers both.  And more.

 

Delivering produce to local families-CSA

We started many years ago selling most of our produce directly to consumers at farmers' markets. We have also sold to stores, schools, hospitals,  resale wholesalers and restaurants. Unfortunately, many people have been unable to obtain this beautiful chemical-free produce either because of time constraints or location. We now offer boxes  of produce via subscription to be delivered to your neighborhood or business—a CSA.

Where Most often this is someone's porch or garage. The exact location of dropoff points is flexible and depends on the number and geographical distribution of subscribers. Clusters of about 15 families/individuals pick up at one site, located to minimize travel. Attractive wooden boxes are marked with your name and pickup takes seconds.

What we grow-organically

 

The variety of products raised is probably wider than that provided by any other western PA organic grower and ranges from vegetables in season to apples, cider, fresh herbs, blueberries and strawberries. It's a lot like eating out of your garden!

Early in the season we have spinach, lettuce, strawberries, onions, beets, fresh herbs, kale.... Midsummer you'd see peppers, tomatoes, new potatoes, broccoli, sweet corn, blueberries, lettuce, squash.... Late season brings apple cider, spinach, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, beets, cauliflower.... In the fall we have larger quantities of potatoes, carrots, apples, cabbage, and beets which can be stored for later use.  We can also bring along larger amounts of items for you to freeze, can, or store.

We take a special pride in our fresh greens and herbs. A steady succession provides us with lettuce nearly every week. Enough herbs are given through the season, that by drying, one is able to accumulate a pretty good supply for the winter. And we have learned that Pittsburghers can be really adventurous in their tastes! Many years ago we found mesclun greens to be a surprise hit and continue to hone our expertise at putting the mix together. We try new crops and varieties to put a little surprise into the mix. Rainbow chard, fennel, radicchio, heirloom tomatoes, ethnic pepper varieties, and many other items you'd likely not bother with when purchasing in a grocery store are part of the package.

We try to solicit information from subscribers as to what they would like to have grown and adjust planting accordingly. We keep track of individual subscriber's tastes with a brief preference list reproduced on the box tags, though admittedly one sometimes gets unfavored items. On a one-time basis, we will give subscribers an unusual item just for diversity. Many people find this an adventure-- maybe they have never made a fresh salsa, or are unfamiliar with kale, cress, radicchio, or fennel. 

When?

Every week from the first of June to Thanksgiving a subscriber receives a box of produce containing whatever is in season. Delivery days are Tuesday through Friday, depending on location.

 

How Much There are three sizes of "shares" available:Standard--produce sufficient for a household of two adults and one or two small children, Plus--for families with two adults and two older children, Light,--for single people we also offer a standard size every second week.  Don't sweat it--it's a small matter to change share sizes at any time if you desire, and you just pay for the boxes you received. We always try to be generous enough that one could give things away and still have plenty to enjoy. As a matter of fact, one of the leading reasons people quit is that they just can't eat all the vegetables!

 

Also: A Newsletter to keep you up to date

With your produce, we supply a weekly newsletter sharing a little of what is happening on the farm, what to expect in the following weeks, and simple recipes for preparing what's in season. In these recipes, we lean toward minimal prep time for busy people (which we certainly are in the summer) and gourmet results. In the newsletter we also let you know about special order items not part of your regular share or larger quantities of items for preserving or storing. Bushels of tomatoes, potatoes, or basil and flats of blueberries, are examples of what can be delivered at the same time.

Special this year: We've decided to really monitor the quality of all our produce and make it even more "nutrient dense" than it has already been.  We'll be learning how to take brix readings (which is a measure of nutrient content) and alter growing conditions to maximize. 

It will be hard to beat the number and variety of the apples we grew last season.  But we figure there will be many more early ones--those juicy yellow Pristine pie apples--as well as more of the MacIntosh-like Liberties.  Our friends, the Oylers, from whom we buy organic apples when ours are short, should have a much better crop than this season.  So it might just be an even more varied apple year after all.   

We'll again offer the absolutely delicious non-organic peaches and nectarines from the McConnell's near the Pgh airport.   We don't grow peaches and stone fruit, and theirs just might be the best in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The eternal quest for the best in tomatoes!  It will be hard to beat the last two years' harvests.  But then thinking back over the years, that was much more typical than what we had seen the prior three wet disease prone years.  We’ll continue seeding many of the heirloom tomato varieties we have come to like over the years and which produce reliably, San Marzano (plum), Green Zebra, Black Velvet, Italian Gold, Arkansas Traveler and Big Pink Ox which was given to us by a subscriber.  (We save our own seed for this one.) Likewise we grow lots of big slicing tomatoes like Mountain Pride and Defiant. 

Last season, with the droughts we entirely missed the Italian shell beans.  So we'll try these tasty treats this year again. The  greenhouse/high tunnel we constructed two years ago has produced fresh “mesclun” greens throughout the winter. Then, in late March, we’ll plant those earliest tomatoes to satisfy that great northern craving which manifests about the 4th of July.  

We’ll continue to expand our cooperative efforts with a long time friend and produce grower—Tom Brenckle--also now an organic grower.  We bought a mechanical bean picker several years ago, and have been sharing it with Tom to produce green beans over a longer season .With the flexibility of using the rich but moist bottom ground of the Brenckles, we hedge our bets because most of our land is hilltop and tends to be very dry.  It worked out extremely well to everyone’s benefit. 

In the last few years we have sought to encourage our neighbors, especially the younger farmers to produce meats and other farm products for the local market. We do this by linking interested subscribers to these producers. This will keep the farms economically viable, preserve the farmland, and add to food security for all. As we all learn more about the nutritional benefits of grass fed beef and pastured chicken, it's truly exciting to utilize the grass Western PA has in abundance. It's a win-win-win.

The cooperation inherent in all these arrangements, and indeed the whole venture, flesh out our vision of what CSA really means—we’re a community which is fed by our regional agriculture.

 

 

 

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For more information contact:

Don or Becky Kretschmann
257 Zeigler Rd.
Rochester, PA 15074

(724) 452-7189

don@kretschmannfarm.com

Thank You

A few years ago we became acquainted with the writings of Louis Bromfield. One could call him one of the fathers of the organic and sustainable agriculture movements. A Pulitzer prize winner in fiction in the '20's, he returned from long residence in Europe in the 1930's to the family farm and wrote extensively about farming into the 1950's. So much of what he says is as current as the day it was written. Eg. "…booms must always be paid for one way or another at some time by someone; in the long run there is never any such thing as a “quick buck”. Someone, perhaps a son or a granddaughter or a child unborn, will have to pay. We are already leaving a vast burden to future generation which will have no Eldorado to plunder as we have had. …These disasters today seem far away. All of us alive today may be dead long before the first symptoms appear, so perhaps none of it matters; but if one has any real morality or genuine religious feeling and faith, as so many of us keep asserting loudly, we are hypocrites, for there is no worse sin in the eyes of God than stealing the heritage of children as yet unborn." We hope we are planning adequately for the future and making the sacrifices which that might require. Cooperation in loving the children will be the key.

One of the best current writers on the state of the food system in the U.S. is Michael Pollan. In a recent book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, he tells the tale of four meals--where the food came from, how it was produced, and how it got to his table. After going to incredible lengths to personally hunt and gather his last meal from the wild, he shares the food and conversation with the friends who helped him. Then he concludes the book with a most amazing paragraph:

"This is not the way I want to eat every day. I like to be able to open a can of stock and I like to talk about politics, or the movies, at the dinner table sometimes instead of food. But imagine for a moment if we once again knew, strictly as a matter of course, these few unremarkable things: What it is we're eating. Where it came from. How it found its way to our table. And what, in a true accounting, it really cost. We could then talk about some other things at dinner. For we would no longer need any reminding that however we choose to feed ourselves, we eat by the grace of nature, not industry, and what we're eating is never anything more or less than the body of the world."

We hope that you have a thousand wonderful conversations around your dinner table as you eat our food which you know all these things about.

 

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