The average person has contact with agriculture at least three times a day, and a small population has contact with the agricultural world constantly on a regular basis. These people have to juggle their families, friends, and careers with helping to feed a nation. But some people are destined to help on a small level, and offer locally grown foods to help develop a healthier society.
This past week I sat down with a farmer, and discussed how he got to where he is and why he does it. I know that why people do things change from person to person, but he had an answer that is universal.
Chris Coleman is a small farmer located right outside of Middletown, PA. He lives there with his wife and three kids, and a plethora of animals. The entire farm set up is very standard, but they utilize their space to effectively produce the highest quality product.
Coleman started out working as a Pharmacy Technician in Philadelphia, and he meant his future wife, Karen, at this job as well. She had just recently graduated from college, and was starting out as a Pharmacist where he had been working. He claims that he knew she was the one at first glance. This union of people would be the start of what is now known as Hidden Pines Farm, LLC.
At their first Halloween party as a couple, they both showed up dressed as dairy cows. This was the sign that they were meant to be together, and also that the farm animals would soon arrive.
During his time as a technician, Karen convinced him to go to nursing school to get a better job. He finished nursing school, and after they were married with one kid, they decided that it was time to move out of the Philadelphia area to a place with land. But at first they were stuck in a cookie cutter house in a development. It was the perfect house, but it was missing the acreage that they were looking for. The couple ended up purchasing a cabin in the northern part of the state to relax. Soon after they sold the house in the development and moved to 17 acres outside of Middletown.
The new house needed a lot of work, but it had the land that they were looking for, and they were able to remain in the same school district as before. They had no ambition to start farming at this time, but they did end up buying 12 chickens from Tractor Supply Company. Then they decided to use some of the land that was going untouched, as a choose and cut Christmas Tree Farm and this is still an ongoing program.
Soon enough though they purchased an incubator and started to raise chickens, ducks, and turkeys. This farm had poultry everywhere and eventually became the beginning of their Community Supported Agriculture program. The following January they purchased pigs and rabbits. And the Highland cattle came shortly after as a father’s day present.
All of these animals have allowed the Coleman family to raise and butcher their own year supply of meats, but also to help others gain a sense of where their food comes from. In addition, the prices are on the lower end of locally grown products.
When we asked Chris why he did this his answer was simple. “I grow grass fed and cage free livestock, so that people are able to experience a wonderful piece of meat. They need to know how their food is made, and not think that the grocery store is responsible.”