The Drop-off: Ian Brendle of Green Meadow Farm & Taproom on 19th

What are you dropping off today?

Bacon, a bunch of different herbs. Like zaatar marjoram, sweet marjoram, rosemary, basil.

What else?

These are shelled black walnuts from Lancaster County. It’s one of the more common trees in Lancaster. It’s a real pain in the ass to shell [laughs].

They’re like a weed tree—they’re growing everywhere. You wait till they drop. They drop when they’re green and sort of have some dark splotches. Usually, you drive over them with something to take the shells off. Then you have to cure them for a little bit and then you can crack them and pick them.

How do you cure them?

You lay ‘em on a wagon or something—sort of air cure them for a little bit because they’re green initially. After they come off the tree and the husk turns black, they’re still green on the inside.

We have double smoked, thick cut bacon. That’s from our butcher. And that’s fruitwood smoked. Curing and smoking are his favorite things. We have salad greens, which is a mix of baby greens that we do in our greenhouse. There’s mizuna, red mustard, cress, arugula, tiny rose radish, red Russian kale. [Opening another box] Then we have some garlic chives, some lemon verbena, chervil, and salad burnet which tastes like cucumber melon. It’s a green that tastes like a combination of cucumber and honey dew. It’s a pretty interesting little green.

What’s your range of products?

Everything. One of things you could say is that we were the first co-op without trying to be a co-op. We run our farm but we also network with other small farms, all small scale. As our business grew when my dad was first starting it, within two to three years it became more than he could handle on his own. He knew a guy, an Amish gentleman about 15-20 minutes away from our farm who had 8 or so acres and was farming a small portion of it. So he talked with him over the winter about growing some different things for him. Every winter, our families would meet up and my dad and this gentleman, Ben Esche, would go through seed catalogs all night long. My sister and I, and his kids, would play, and they’d sit down for like six hours just going through a bunch of different seed catalogs, figuring out what they were gonna grow all next year.

That grew from my dad and Ben, and then we started getting phone calls from Amish people who had full-time jobs but had a quarter-acre or half-acre garden and said they want to grow asparagus or rhubarb, or beans for hart-covert or wax beans. Then it just kind of grew. Now, there’s 16-18 young Amish couples that want to grow on limited acreage. I have a guy that just does zucchini and peppers. I have a guy that does hot house tomatoes for us in the spring. He’s an Amish gentleman who has a window repair business at his house. Busy, but he wanted to put up a hoop house. The first year, he called me before the first tomatoes were even ripe and said, I put up a hoop house, would you be interested in getting vine ripe tomatoes from me.

How are you raising them? I asked.

I’m not doing anything to them.

I just conditioned the soil with compost and manure. I plant my tomatoes and I give them some natural calcium and whatever they need and that’s that, he says.

Okay. Let me taste them. I taste them.

They’re awesome, so I’m like, let’s do it.

It’s the same thing with how you get your pork since you don’t have any pigs on your property.

Yeah, the pork and the beef is done in the same way. The guy that does raw goat’s milk and chevre for us, also raises hogs. Periodically throughout the year, he’ll have a 300 or 350lb dressed hog for us. I line up the driver and get everything lined up with the slaughter house and then Derrick goes to his house, takes it to the slaughterhouse, slaughterhouse sends it to our butcher. I pick it up at the butcher. That’s it.

As you said before, you tell people you’ll only work with/buy from people if they meet your standards on raising animals. l mean, you’re not being a dick about it, but….

No, no, no. You don’t want to be a dick, but you still want to get across—even though we’re not farming those things at our farm, we still want to make sure that they’re being farmed conscientiously and sustainably.

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