Serving the Pittsburgh area since 2009, Who Cooks For You Farm is a 10-acre farm in New Bethlehem, PA. The farm is Certified Naturally Grown and a member of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), as well as a Pennsylvania Buy Fresh, Buy Local Partner. Owners Chris and Aeros cultivate a vast array of vegetables, culinary herbs, and some fruit. They work to ensure sustainable growing practices that encourage healthy soil systems, beneficial insects, and pollinators because they believe “food is the foundation upon which healthy communities thrive, both human and non-human.” They are best known for their heirloom tomatoes, which you can find at the Co-op, along with their head lettuce, salad mixes, pea shoots, micro-greens, cilantro, parsley, red tomatoes, sweet peppers, radishes, and Swiss chard. To learn more about Who Cooks For You Farm, visit: www.whocooksforyoufarm.com.
What makes products from your farm unique?
Our farm is small enough that we can ensure the quality of our products. All the produce we sell comes from our farm ONLY! We can tell you everything about the vegetables we grow and the fields they’re grown in. This is incredibly important to know!
What are you most proud of as a local farmer?
We’re proud of the job we’ve done so far. We’ve come such a long way from where we began when we would prepare soil to plant by hand. You had to be superhuman to work in a situation like that. When there isn’t much money in the bank, you have to do what you have to do to get the job done. We love to grow food for our community. It’s very satisfying to know that what we do helps families to live healthy lives and eat delicious food. We believe our contributions to society are positive!
What is the biggest challenge of being a farmer?
It’s hard to find the time to live a normal life with time to rest, hang out with friends, quality time with family—vacation?! You have to love farming if you’re going to do it, because there’s not going to be much time for anything else. Starting a farm, or farming period, is difficult when you haven’t lived the life of farmers. There’s so much to learn and you have to learn it in the field. Farming is mostly difficult because industry teaches us that food should be cheap and that our health isn’t something that’s worth investing in. Local farmers need to earn enough money to take care of their fami-lies and pay their help a living wage. It’s all tied together.
What is a typical day on your farm like?
Farm planning starts with the sunrise. We organize all the tasks that need to get done and who will do them. The crew starts their day at 7 AM. There are wholesale availabil-ity lists to send off in the morning. We have the vegetables harvested and washed by lunch. After lunch, we tend to farm maintenance, weed, put on or remove row cover, cultivate on the tractor, plant out starts, prune tomatoes in the hoophouses, seed in the greenhouse, mow, harvest crops that don’t need to be harvested in the morning, and irrigate. All the while, the farmers have a great time joking around in the beautiful countryside of Western PA.
What is the most important thing for customers to know about your products?
We enjoy what we do, so there is a lot of love and joy in the food that we grow. You know you can always trust Who Cooks For You Farm!
This article originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of The Co-operator.