A wonderful time

A warm and delighted thank you to everyone who came out for the open house this weekend!  We’ll try to get a few photos up soon.  Until then we’ll have to make do with sweet memories of sandaled feet traipsing the dusty driveway, little feet chasing chickens, and weary feet propped on overturned apple crates at the end of the day as their owners talked about strange summer weather, new plans for the farm, and the different sorts of things that brought us each to Wheatland that afternoon.

Thanks again — it was a wonderful time.

Published in: | on August 26th, 2008 | 494 Comments »

Open House at the farm this weekend!

Happy August, everyone! Is it really going to be Labor Day soon? It’s been quite a year for all three farms here at Wheatland, and we hope you’ll come on out to the farm this Sunday, August 24, to learn more about it. The funs starts at 3pm and runs until 7pm.

Ready to go

We’d like to invite our market customers and friends, who make up the consuming half of the Washington area’s thriving local food system, to come see how we’re contributing to the production half.

Garlic harvest

You can wander around the farm on your own if you like, or join a guided tour. They’ll start on the hour at 3:00, 4:00, 5:00 and 6:00. See our crops as well as our production methods, equipment, greenhouses, ponds, irrigation system, chickens and people! Talk to farmers and workers. As our landlords Chip and Susan Planck put it, “Wheatland Vegetable Farms is now living up to its plural name.” Learn more about what it’s like for three independent farm operations – all practicing small-scale sustainable agriculture – to share a farm.

Chicken love

Bring a picnic, if you like. We’ll provide cool drinks. Children are very welcome. No pets.


Directions can be had here. Please get in touch if you have any questions!

Published in: | on August 22nd, 2008 | 489 Comments »

Look who’s here!

In the interest of full disclosure: you won’t ever see these fellows at market.  They’re, uh, for home use.

Look who's here!

These are (pretty darn cute) Cornish Rock meat hen chicks … for the wedding supper!

Published in: | on April 8th, 2008 | 502 Comments »

Meet your farmers: Lisa

Howdy, all! Wow – I sure took my time getting this hello up here on our website. But I took my time getting to the farm too, so perhaps it’s fitting.

Meet your farmers: Lisa

Back in college, I sure didn’t anticipate I’d spend my late 20s sorting sweet peppers, getting kicked regularly by 150-pound Katahdin ewes, and dreaming about beet varieties and diesel engines! I studied Latin American history and culture at the University of Pittsburgh, concentrating on preparing for a career in public service. And before I came to Wheatland, that’s what I did: I spent a year as an early childhood literacy worker, and another year teaching preschool. I then spent four years in the Fourth World Movement volunteer corps in New York City, where I coordinated a children’s network linking kids from many backgrounds and helped support the amazing families who were part of our organization.

I loved that work deeply, and miss being a daily part of that community of people. But in late 2005, I made the decision to take some sabbatical time to work on a farm or two. I wanted some more time outside, and the chance to get strong and learn some hard skills. I was also curious to know if the kind of work I’d been doing might intersect with farm work in some way.

After helping out at some small family farms in France and Ireland in the first half of 2006, I found myself working for the Plancks at Wheatland. I was surprised how readily I adapted to the rhythms and demands of a farm workday. I was not surprised to learn I loved selling our produce at farmers markets as much as I’d enjoyed being on the other side of the table as a customer in New York! Farmers markets tend to pulse with a festive, can’t-wait-to-get-back-to-my-kitchen energy. I love that. And food is, I believe, a great instigator. We stand in front of someone else with a juicy pink Brandywine tomato. Or a casserole steamy with homemade mac & cheese. Or a big bag of Doritos, for that matter. We hold this food in our hands and somehow we’re primed to begin sharing our stories. This is true for all of us in some way, I think. I love that most of all.

(I also – ahem! – met myself a farmer along the way. He’s pretty cool. We’re getting married in May.)

And so I decided to stick around! In 2007 I worked for the affable-as-all-get-out Pritchard family at Smith Meadows, a livestock farm not farm from here where sheep, cattle, hogs, chickens, and the occasional Thanksgiving turkey pass their days grazing on lush grass and dozing in the shade of old apple trees. The Pritchards sell their meat at many DC-area markets, and I can’t recommend them enough.

2008 is the first year that Ali and I are business partners.  We’re both so excited that the new season is upon us. I spend a lot of time dreaming about the farm as a place to build community – we’ll share some of that along the way here at the farm blog.

If you missed it, be sure to read about Ali’s path to farmerhood … right here.

(p.s. I’ve got a camera in my pocket pretty much all the time. We’ll try to post regular updates with news and photos from the farm. Let us know what you think!)

Published in: | on April 7th, 2008 | 538 Comments »

Meet your farmers: Ali

Hi – Ali here.

Meet your farmers: Ali

I first came to Wheatland as a summer worker between my sophomore and junior years at St. John’s College in Annapolis. It sounded like a challenge, and I wanted to work outside. After three years as a seasonal employee at Wheatland, I was ready to commit to a career in farming. I spent two seasons as a crew leader at another farm, managing seasonal staff in the daily tasks of keeping a farm running. It was my first experience in a formal management position, and it really helped me appreciate what goes on behind the scenes. I found that managing a crew well meant learning how to manage my time effectively and how to communicate clearly with workers.

In late 2005 I spoke again with Wheatland owners Chip and Susan Planck. They’ve been farming at Wheatland since the mid-1970s and were ready to invest time and energy into creating a co-housing community on the farm. At the same time, they were thinking really creatively about how to support young farmers in building a viable career. I entered into a special lease agreement: in return for rent, shared cost of equipment maintenance, and a percentage of market profits, I’m allowed use of land and machinery. It’s a pretty favorable situation! It’s a chance for us to get started as farmers without the up-front expenses of buying land and equipment.

Read about how Lisa came to Wheatland here.

Published in: | on January 26th, 2008 | 467 Comments »