If you want true farm-to-table, look no further than Weatherbury Farm. This family owned and operated farm in Avella, PA, is managed by three members of the Tudor family: Dale, Nancy, and Nigel. Their mission is to heal the earth using traditional, sustainable farming techniques and to connect consumers to food through education and transparency. The Tudors have a hand in literally every process on their 220-acre organic farm. They raise grass-fed beef and lamb and a wide variety of certified organic grains, including soft & hard wheat, oats, spelt, open-pollinated corn, emmer and einkorn. From putting the seeds in the ground to the flour in the bag, all the planting, harvesting, and milling take place right on the farm.
By using natural recycling and conservation techniques like grazing, crop rotations, and organic farming methods, Weatherbury is able to minimize external inputs and uphold high standards of sustainability. They embrace natural synergies created on the farm; for example they use animal manure to fertilize the fields, and then those fields produce grains that are milled and sold to consumers, used for animal bedding, and fed to their flock of free-range chickens (which produce eggs that the farmers enjoy for breakfast). The farm was certified organic in 2009, but the family has been farming without herbicides, pesticides, or chemical fertilizers since 1988. Weatherbury Farm was one of two farms selected (from 500+ farms) for the 2012 Pennsylvania Certified Organic Sustainability Award. They have also received the Southwestern Pennsylvania Sustainable Small Business Award (Gold), the Sustainable Agriculture Award from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, and the 1999 EPA Energy Star Small Business Award. It’s great to have the Tudors and small farmers like them here in the region, sustainably harvesting food for all of our futures. We talked with Nigel Tudor about what makes Weatherbury so special (and got a few recipes, too!).
East End Food Co-op (EEFC): What inspired you to start your business?
Nigel Tudor, Weatherbury Farmer & Miller: We bought our farm in 1986. From 1992 to 2017 we offered Farm Vacations / Bed & Breakfast stays. In 2007 we diversified our farm by sell grass-fed and grass-finished beef and lamb. In 2008 we started growing certified organic grains. In 2014 we added our flour mill.
EEFC: What makes your products or business unique?
Nigel: We grow all of the grains we use and mill them on our farm. We like to call our flour an estate flour (like estate wine) since everything from putting the seed in the ground to putting the flour in the bag is done at Weatherbury Farm.
EEFC: What is the most important thing for customers to know about your products?
Nigel: While our products are local and organic what people like the best about our products is the flavor.
EEFC: How do you source ingredients?
Nigel: We raise all of the grains that we mill.
EEFC: What is the greatest challenge you face/have faced as a local business owner?
Nigel: Getting people to know about us and our products.
EEFC: What is your hope for the future of your business?
Nigel: Early in 2019 we will be launching our “Grain Tracker”. Every package will have a QR code on the lot number label which will take you to a page on our website about that grain that is in the flour bag. The page will show pictures of the actual crop that is in the flour bag at different growth stages, a history of the crop variety, where it was grown and a history of the farm it was grown on. In 2019 we will also be building a wood fired bread oven on our farm. We plan on bringing in bakers to teach bread baking classes. This will help educate the public about using local flours to bake bread at home. We would also like to find a baker who would operate a small bakery off of our farm.
EEFC: Why do you think people should shop local?
Nigel: Shopping local is truly the only way to know where your food comes from.