Lettuce Introduce Ourselves
Blackberry Meadows Farm is a Certified Organic fruit and vegetable CSA farm which also produces pork, beef, and poultry. We serve our neighbors in the Alle-Kiski Valley with fresh meat and vegetables from our farm store and we serve the Pittsburgh Region with Garden Shares and food system support.
Jen Montgomery and Greg Boulos purchased the farm in 2008, inheriting the organic status along with one of the first well established regional CSAs, dating back in the late 1980’s.
Over the years, we’ve added to the operation, including pasture-raised meats, eggs and dairy, hosting farm events, tours, community potlucks and weddings, sharing our knowledge with aspiring farmers, providing customers with seeds and seedlings to grow their own CSA, and developing a community kitchen to increase value added production for our customers.
We are a uniquely open-door farm
We provide our community with access to both nutrient dense, fresh, organic, local produce, AND the opportunity to join us in the fields and learn how to produce your own. Our customers receive the highest quality, most nutrient dense fuel for their families.
With 19 years of organic farming experience behind her, Jen and Greg decided to take on the challenge of Blackberry Meadows Farm in 2007. She’s worked on farms in West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and as far away as Scotland and New Zealand. After all of her worldly farm travels, she took time out to earn her Masters in Sustainable Systems from Slippery Rock University, where she studied the science and theory behind the various styles of Sustainable Agriculture. It’s important to keep farm work flowing. Along with being a Mom she helps to make this farm enjoyable and productive.
Olivia is the “explorer” on the farm, at 2 years old, she is experiencing everything for the first time! Her enthusiasm and sense of wonder is contagious! Far from being the boss, she is anxiously repeating every word she hears and touching (and tasting) everything she can get her hands on.
Greg is the on-farm handyman and can fix just about anything. With a Masters in Sustainable Systems from Slippery Rock University he’s put to use his vast knowledge base of alternative energy, green building and ecological design to catalyze green projects around the Pittsburgh region. He’s got the ‘black thumb’ from fixing equipment and moving rocks. Besides heavy lifting, he works to develop the ‘systems’ which provide fertility and efficiency to the farm operation. He’s also our business manager, wrote our stellar business plan, and keeps coming up with new ideas! He spends his “time off” being a Dad and rough housing!
Evelyn is the “watcher” on the farm, she observes chores and tasks, then tells the farmers if they are doing things right or wrong. Currently, she’s helping us to train the apprentices – showing them the proper way to plant onions and pull weeds. She’s also a taste tester for our delicious heirloom tomatoes.
Real Food for our Neighbors
Community is the reason we farm with a Community Supported Agriculture method. While it seems like a cyclical argument… Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs aren’t all the same. Many of our regional CSAs are either 1) programmed subscriptions offered by coops and logistics companies or 2) customized drop-offs where customers will rarely meet each other or their farmers. Our CSA takes a much different approach… we grow food while getting to know, meet and assist ALL of our members in enjoying the most nutritious food in the region.
There is no 3rd party handling the relationship between our members and us, the farmers. This website to facilitate payments and present introductory information is about as far as any customer will ever be from us. The money paid through subscriptions directly offsets our costs of operations and mortgages. Our members are our Risk Management System, paying for us to grow difficult heirloom crops with their rare, fragile flavors and also to work with over 50 aspiring farmers and customers to produce this unique food. Every dollar spent on subscriptions ensures our continued operation year to year.
Our form of farm operations is a Social Enterprise. Our decisions are made to serve the community of eaters who support our farm. Our Subscription members are our first priority in how we design and grow our business (as we hope is evident in ALL of our product offerings). It’s clearly not the ‘easy money’ we are after… it is the deeper and longer lasting personal connections with the human beings who are being nourished by our work.
A Community that Cooks Together...
A major undertaking which began in 2008 has been to build a community kitchen here at the farm. Opening in 2018, the Community Kitchen will now provide an easy and accessible way for our members to can, dry, freeze and ferment their food at a community scale. It has been our driving force to ensure that our products enter customers bodies and not just waste away in back of the fridge. While we have studied and generated an all inclusive kitchen plan in our barn, we have been building a more community focused (and significantly less expensive) summer kitchen near the farmhouse.
Fresh Air, Water, Soil
We have also taken the official position to not sell any of our Marcellus gas rights. While the rush is on and our neighbors laugh in our faces, we refuse to sign away our future air and water rights to multinational corporations for money. To us, it would be selling the soul of the Earth that we so carefully steward on your behalf. We produced this document with the University of Pittsburgh’s Environmental Law Center to explain the risks to farmers who frack.
Our systems of producing food are constantly improving. As we learn new techniques for soil and water conservation, establishing microbial habitat and reducing our fertilizer inputs, we adapt our production systems to ensure that we are producing the healthiest most nutrient dense food offered in our region.
Empowering Regional Resilience
Some achievements we’ve made along the way include extensive work in informing the design of the regional food system. On the rare occasion that schedules align for us to attend meetings with local, regional and statewide agencies to discuss how to rebuild our local food connections, we take the time. We are currently serving on the Mayor of Pittsburgh’s Regional Resilience Steering Committee and as a regional representative for the Pennsylvania Women’s Agriculture Network.
We launched our Garden Share program in 2012 to help members who couldn’t afford the time and money to travel to our farm each week. Their early success in growing bumper crops of their own CSA shares have led us to expand to over 50 members in 2015. We have not found any CSA program in the country that is comparable.
Spend the Night on the Farm
Agrotourism on an organic farm! We have a comfortable room; with a cozy double bed and private bathroom. Enjoy a bit of farm life. Experience how food is produced with our diverse farm animals, community vegetable farm, and the chance to help the crew. Great fresh meals! Our 1950’s stone ranch house is set right in the middle our 85 acre organic farm. With comfortable, family friendly accommodations, our guests can settle in and feel right at home.
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