Local Farms in Pennsylvania: Growing Quality and Service

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By Marianne Reid Anderson

Why shouldn’t you tell secrets on the farm? Because the corn has ears, the potatoes have eyes and the bean stalks. Our local farms and multi-generational families of farmers are not just hard-workers but they are also full of creativity, homespun goodness, and deep-rooted values. In this, our second look at local farms in our area, we are proud to bring you further insight to these amazing places and the people dedicated to bringing us the bounty of the earth.

Farms_Kaelin family

Mr. & Mrs. Kaelin & Family

Kaelin’s Family Farm – “Lettuce Be Your Farmers” is the very clever and apropro slogan of Kaelin’s Family Farm located on Brandt School Road in Franklin Park.  In addition to the Kaelin Country Kitchen that offers fresh daily lunch specials, breakfast and homemade baked goods, Kaelin’s farm market also includes homemade frozen dinners and soups from scratch, a whole array of tantalizing natural produce including, as the slogan suggests, many varieties of lettuce, spinach, kale and other greens. Additional produce includes onions, beets, broccoli, peppers, zucchini, eggplant and much more and, of course, the much anticipated countdown to corn and peaches has begun! For more information on all their homemade and homegrown goodness, visit http://www.kaelinfarms.com/.


Soergel Orchards

Soergel Orchards

Soergel Orchards, Country Store and More – Has opened their Butterfly House which is poetry in motion. Opened from 11a.m. to 3p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays for $3.00 per person, visitors can have a close-up and personal experience with butterflies by feeding them a concoction made from purple Gatorade on Q-tips that attract the butterflies directly to you. In addition to the butterflies, you can also experience caterpillars and depending the timing of your visit, you may even be able to spot a chrysalis hatching and the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. The Butterfly House is part of their store location on Brandt School Road off the Wexford Exit on I79. For more information and a calendar of additional events, visit http://soergels.com/


Shenot Family Farm

Shenot Family Farm

Shenot Family Farm – The Shenot family are the connoisseurs of corn, apples and a whole bevy of natural produce. This family farm is located on Wexford Run Road between I79 and Rt-19 in Wexford and will be featuring 10-12 varieties of their renowned sweet corn in both bi-color and white throughout the summer. Certain varieties do well in the earlier parts of summer whereas others do better in the later part, but all have been personally selected by the Shenot’s and include such varieties as Temptation, Charisma, Illusion, Providence and Silver Duchess, among others. They also feature over 25 varieties of apples and recommend blending both tart and sweet flavored apples together in recipes for such favorites as pies, applesauce, apple butter and is how they produce their award-winning apple cider. Be sure and stop by and treat yourself to these delectable varieties of produce.   All the produce is completely natural and none has been genetically-modified. For more information, check out their website at http://shenotfarm.com/.

Eichner’s Farm Market and Greenhouses – located at 285 Richard Road in Wexford, Eichner’s was originally purchased in 1897 by their Great-Grandfather Richard (who the street was named after) and the farmhouse built at the turn of the last century still stands on the property. Being a large extended family with deep roots in the area, Ron Eichner, composed the following poem to illustrate the history of the farm and family:

A Poem

by Ron Eichner

Our family memories all started in 1897,

When John Richard bought his little piece of heaven.

He didn’t realize how special the valley would be,

But it was the place that a lot of us called home, like you and me.

It started with a log house, adding a few small buildings and finally a barn,

The story doesn’t stop here so you don’t have to say darn.

As time went by, God blessed them with three boys and three girls,

They truly were John and Clara Richards sparkling little pearls.

With five of his kids building homes on a piece of the farm,

It added 18 special grandchildren to turn their actions into little capers which could tell,

Some of the funniest and craziest events, written as a story, I know would sell.

It was Sister Alphonsine that spent her life as a Divine Providence nun,

And her yearly visit home would turn into a family gathering in which everyone had fun.

It was Aunt Teresa and Uncle Mike that begun to seriously work the land,

With help from a lot of us at times, to give a hand.

Whether it was to weed, feed or to pick something out in the field,

We still get together and dress turkeys, knowing why their fate is sealed.

Now, with fourth and fifth generations coming to be,

We find a lot of homes, far from the base of our family tree.

It is a gathering like this that brings us together, to laugh and have fun,

And share even more stories of what we have done.

So the challenge that each and every one of us has,

Is to help nurture our family tree, ‘cause time continues to pass.

But to try and get together again and again for more laughter and fun,

More importantly, never losing sight by how it all begun.

 Eichner’s is happy to announce that they have additional turkeys available along with their chickens and eggs, so for more information or to place your turkey or smokehouse order, email eichnerfarm@gmail.com or call 724-935-2131.

 We at Northern Connection encourage our readers to support our local farms and businesses. If you know of any other farms, festivals or events or local specialty stores. Be sure and let us know at NorthCon@consolidated.net or call us at 724-940-2444.

Are you a poet? Send us your poems and you may be selected to be published in an up-coming issue, our web site and our many social media outlets. Submit to NorthCon@consolidated.net

By Marianne Reid Anderson

According to the last U.S. census, Pennsylvania has the densest rural population of any state with over 51,000 local farms. Unlike other states, where large corporations are responsible for growing only one or two crops, local farms here in Pennsylvania each grow an amazing assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables plus offer a variety of other high-quality goods and services and are supported whole-heartedly by our local communities and businesses. In addition, studies show that children here in Pennsylvania are more likely to eat fresh, seasonal produce when it comes from a farm or farm market that they have visited. We here at Northern Connection would like to applaud these hard-working families and share some highlights of these particularly special places and people in our community:


Brenkle’s Farms and Greenhouses

Brenckle’s Farms and Greenhouses– has two convenient retail locations, one on Mt. Troy in Pittsburgh and the other in Butler County. The Brenckle farm is also a wholesale provider and is one of the local farms selected by both Giant Eagle and Eat n’ Park to supply fresh produce. The Brenckle’s Farm started over 80 years ago when Alfred C. Brenckle purchased property in Pittsburgh and has grown substantially to other farming locations in Western Pennsylvania. Now the 3rd and 4th generations own and operate the farms. For more information and directions to their retail shops, visit http://www.brenckle.com/.

Clarion River Organics – is a cooperative of 10 family farms working together from Sligo, PA.  All farms are certified organic and strive to maintain healthy soils as their main means of pest and disease control. You can find their food in a number of different places and ways: Subscribe to their CSA* to get a weekly box of produce, Visit one of their farmers’ markets, Order food from them at wholesale quantities/prices. In addition, you can also find their food in several Pittsburgh grocery stores, including Whole Foods Market, the East End Food Cooperative and some Giant Eagle Market Districts, as well as several Pittsburgh restaurants. To become a member of their CSA or to learn more about this amazing cooperative of family farms, visit their website at http://www.clarionriverorganics.com/ .

Deener’s Farm Market – located on Rt-19 at the north end of Cranberry. Deener’s has been at this location for 33 years and is owned by Becky Deener who graduated with a degree in horticulture from Penn State University. Becky is helped by her children, two of her sisters and now their children.  Opened from May 1st to Halloween, Deener’s starts by offering beautiful flowers, hanging and combination pots and then will transition into a fully-stocked vegetable market complete with special varieties, including macaroni sweet corn and for hot-pepper aficionado’s, the very popular “inferno” hot peppers. Deener’s continues into the fall featuring pumpkins and potted mums. For more information, email Becky094@gmail.com or call the market at 724-452-7994.

Farms_Dillner fields

Dillner Family Farm

Dillner Family Farm – owned and operated by Don and Jane Dillner and family at their location in Gibsonia since 1940.

Dillner’s enjoys a longer growing season due to their high-tunnel greenhouses that enable them to roll-up the sides and control temperature and irrigation. Dillner’s CSA* memberships are completely sold-out for the 2014 season, but fortunately, in addition to their own location on Sandy Hill Road, they participate in many farm markets in and around the city including, downtown, Oakland, Sewickley, Verona, Lawrenceville among others so you can still get your supply of their produce. Visit their website http://www.dillnerfamilyfarm.com/ for a complete list of farm markets and locations.


Eichner’s Farm Market & Greenhouse

Giant Eagle Market District – For decades and for your convenience, Giant Eagle brings the produce from over 100 local farms direct into their stores, providing your local favorites while also supporting the local farmer. In addition, the Market District has started to identify local specialty markets and producers to bring great quality foods from around the area. For example, Giant Eagle Market District works with DeLallo to bring several limited-edition types of olives, and with Greek Gourmet Market Place for their renowned hummus, also, locally-made shonklish which is a delicious aged, Lebanese cheese made with Middle Eastern herbs, and they have also started offering a variety of cured meats from a small business located in Beechview operated by Kevin Costa. For more information, visit your local Giant Eagle Market District or online at http://www.marketdistrict.com.

Farms_Harvest Valley

Harvest Valley Farms

Kaelin’s Family Farm – is located on Brandt School Road in Franklin Park.  Kaelin’s is open from mid-March to Christmas. They start with beautiful flowers and baskets, transition to delectable produce and then they even sell trees, wreaths and cookie trays at Christmas. Kaelin’s farm market also includes the Kaelin Country Kitchen that offers fresh daily lunch specials, breakfast and homemade baked goods. For more information or to download their daily lunch menu that includes 2 daily soups, sandwiches such as their Turkey Apple Panini, Corned beef or Turkey Reuben’s, and even hot dogs and PB&J’s for the kids among many others delights, go to http://www.kaelinfarms.com/.

Marburger Dairy Farm – Marburger Dairy Farm delivers milk, teas and cultured products to customers all over the Pittsburgh area. Perhaps one of their most unique features is that they still offer HOME DELIVERY to many residential areas. They deliver farm-fresh milk, cheeses, ice cream and much, much more. Be sure and try their amazing buttermilk for that special something in pancakes, mashed potatoes and fried chicken. They produce fresh quality dairy products daily with employees on the clock twenty-four hours a day! For a complete list of products and to see if your area receives delivery, visit their website at http://www.marburgerdairy.com/ or call 1-800-331-1295 or 724-538-4800. 

Farms_Organic Brenckle

Fruits and vegetables at Brenckle’s Orgnic

Reilly’s Summer Seat Farm and Garden Center – With an original land grant that dates from 1786, current owner Mike Reilly is celebrating his 30th anniversary since taking the farm commercial. In addition to its farm market, Reilly’s is also known for its Garden Center with its vast selection of gardening supplies, decorations, and plants; its amazing harvest festivals with as many as 11 wagons to the pumpkin patch, corn maze and haunted house; its visits and pictures with Santa, and their family-oriented u-pick berry fields starting in June, full of strawberries, then black and red raspberries and then blueberries. Since berries are weather dependent, you can check the status of their u-pick berry crops, by calling their info line at 412-364-8270. For more information about their market, Garden Center, and upcoming events and festivals, visit. http://www.reillyssummerseatfarm.com/

Ross Township Farmers Market – is opened on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. from May 14 until the last Wednesday in October. The farm market is located in the parking lot across from St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on rt-19 Perry Highway in Perrysville. Organized by Mazur’s farms in Zelienople, they have brought together a wide variety of produce and specialty items including Olive Tap olive oils, Sam’s Gyro’s, Fontana Pasta Liz’s Ice Balls, Flame Bar-b-que, Uncle Fester’s Condiments, Yvonne’s Dried Pasta, Pittsburgh Cookie Goddess, Yoder Amish Baked Goods and much, much more. St. John’s refuses to receive any vendor fees for the use of their parking lot, so monies are donated to the North Hills Food Bank. For more information, go to their Facebook page: Ross Twp. Farmers’ Market.


Vegetable case at Shenot Family Farm

Soegel Orchards, Country Store and More – is located on Brandt School Road off the Wexford Exit on I79. In operation since 1850, they have grown their farm market to include a wine shop featuring Arrowhead wines; a gift shop featuring bath and body items, accessories, home accents, teas and accessories, customized gift baskets and much more; lunch specials and farm-fresh catering, festivals and events such as their Strawberry festival and Live music performances; and lots of activities, games and summer camps for kids including their Tiny-Town play area. So much to do and see, it has become a popular family and tourist destination particularly for children and with out-of-town guests and relatives. For more information and a calendar of events, visit http://soergels.com/

We at Northern Connection encourage our readers to support our local farms and businesses. If you know of any other farms, festivals or events or local specialty stores. Be sure and let us know at NorthCon@consolidated.net or call us at 724-940-2444.

*CSA – stands for a Community Supported Agriculture program in which, for a fee, you become a member and receive a box of weekly produce for you and your family to enjoy, for pick-up at selected, convenient locations.

[Editor’s Note: As a special note, on behalf of all of us here at Northern Connection magazine, I would like to personally thank the many wonderful families that took the time from all their hard work and literally turned off the tractor to speak with me in the creation of this article. Your hard work and dedication is greatly appreciated and inspiring.]