Farm Manager and Pizza Guru, Evan Morgan with a Broccoli Cheddar pie about to be loaded into the 750 degree oven.
2019 - A tough winter but we are pressing on!
Our greenhouse was flattened by snow and ice amongst other things, but regardless, our fourth pizza/live music season will start (May 17th). 2018 was a great year and we continue to be told our pizza, venue, and live music keep getting better and better. That is what we are striving for - complete customer satisfaction at each and every one of our wood-fired pizza events.
All pizzas are topped with our homemade sauces, our organically grown vegetables, and local cheese from grass fed cows at nearby Calkins Creamery. Sourdough culture breaks down the wheat and spelt glutens, so many people that struggle with gluten intolerance may be able to enjoy our pizza. Our dough is a blend of organic whole grain wheat, spelt and 00 flour.
Reservations are NOT REQUIRED, but if you plan to arrive at peak times between 6 and 8, please be patient for your order. Pizza is available between 5:30 and 9:30 each Friday evening - cost is $13 per 12" pie. Gluten free crust also available. We also plan on offering fresh farm salads and non-alcoholic drinks. We are cash only.
Come out to the farm and find out why so many people become regulars at our events. Live music will be happening every Friday beginning at 6:00. We are open RAIN OR SHINE, as we now have a new dining pavilion to keep everyone dry in the event of a shower. We have added additional picnic tables and more round tables and chairs this year, so there should be plenty of seating, but feel free to bring a comfortable lawn chair just to be sure. Children always welcome.
We are also now renting out our facility on any day of the week besides Fridays, and provide sit down artisan pizza dinners for private events and weddings in an affordable and bucolic setting. Learn more here or email us about scheduling a visit to the farm.
Our First Wedding in August of 2018 was a Huge Success... Photo: Keristin@haleyrichterphoto.com
Embracing the Past...
The photos above show our 50 acre family farm as it appeared in the early 1900's - before the "green revolution" which changed small farming from family farms to large, industrialized mega-farms in just two generations.
As recently as 1900, close to 40% of Americans owned and operated a small farm. We nurtured the land and each other. There was a sense of purpose and community. During World War II, over 40% of our food came from backyard “victory gardens”, but more recently we have been taught to think small farming was for someone else - we were too important to get our hands dirty.
As Americans learn more about the quality of their food - the taste, nutritional value, and safety; they are in ever-increasing numbers turning to small , local, organic farms for quality foods to nourish their families. Farming connects children and food and these connections provides kids with the foundation for healthy food choices and lifestyles.
You may notice from our logo some connections to the past. The hex symbol relates to owner, Al Benner's Pennsylvania German farming heritage (Ludwig Benner - arrived into Philadelphia in 1749 on the ship "Fame" from the Rhine River Valley), the crescent moon represents the old school across the river where previous property owner, Olive Water taught for many years. The oven/fire image represents our earthen/wood-fired bread and pizza oven, and the arrow makes the connection to the native people who treaded so lightly and reverently on the land before us for thousands of years.
...to Secure our Future
Owen Benner tempts the flock of Icelandic Sheep
We feel it of utmost importance for man not to continue to deplete natural resources, and to become a lot less wasteful and more locally based. For these reasons we have come up with a very simple, yet challenging mission:
To make our bio-diverse, organic small farm as self-sustaining as possible, eventually requiring little to no external/off farm inputs.
To do this we are starting to make use of our own resources as much as possible. Our woodlot to fire our oven, the sun to pump our water for our gardens, our spring house to keep produce cool and for winter storage, green roofs to reflect heat and grow food (60 lbs of carrots in one 3' x 3' bed), our own grains and root crops to feed our livestock and poultry, bees and sugar maples for sweeteners, and most importantly, a large organic vegetable plot.
We also have two small orchards, plenty of laying hens, turkeys, and sheep, to provide healthy, organic food for our family, neighbors, friends and other local establishments.
Education & Hands on Experience hold the key
Intern Tyler Hess talks broccoli with local summer camp visitors - Photo by OSF intern Katherine Agnew
Because our farm has a wide variety of terrain, soils, water features, and other naturally occurring elements, we have decided to embrace these variations and work with this natural landscape with our small farming practices. We are not interested in mono-cropping or focusing on just one thing - our land does not lend itself to that. We also believe it to be risky, and a little boring to be honest.
Our property is also quite picturesque. From hillsides strewn with moss covered boulders, to hilltop orchards and grazing areas, to lowland pastures, vegetable plots, and a trout stream, Old School Farm offers a little bit of everything.
When thinking about how to best leverage our resources to support a small farm and share our diversity, we decided to open the farm up for pizza nights and events where folks can together see, experience and taste what makes small scale, locally produced and organically grown food so special.
On our farm we emphasize principles of self-sufficiency and sustainability in a hands on way. We believe once children (and adults) experience time on the farm. enjoying the amazing taste of our organically grown food, they often become inspired to produce and prepare their own. For children, these hands on farm experiences can help shape their lifelong connection to plants, animals, food, nutrition, and perhaps ultimately, enhanced physical health and a deeper connection to the natural world.
We even have a wood-fired earthen oven
People the world over have been cooking in earthen domes for thousands of years. By creating a well-insulated earthen oven, heat can be trapped for many hours in the fire bricks, sand filled base, and surrounding clay. As the earth oven slowly cools, different foods can be baked. Our "Friday Pizza Nights" focus on a favorite - wood-fired pizza, and this helps make the connection for people about growing, harvesting & cooking their own food.
The earthen oven was a slow, laborious process to construct - here's one clip on YouTube showing one of the steps.
Farm Owner, Al Benner's dad, Dave has been an inspiration to Al. Dave Benner is seen here with former Farm Manager, Dave Campeau setting up our bee hives.
So What's Next for Old School Farm?
Beginning in May of 2018 the farm will be available for private parties and events - learn more here.
Since we thrive on variety and diversity and growing as many of the ingredients for our wood fired pizzas as possible, we plan on continuing in that vein, and for the spring of 2018 will be growing more heirloom tomatoes, herbs, as well as other "topping" ingredients for our pies.
In 2013 we were awarded a grant by the USDA that was used for a 28' x 120' high tunnel (hoop house). In this we have been growing a lot more warm season crops - particularly a wide range of tomatoes for sauce for our pizzas! We also have plans for growing a variety of sought after mushroom varieties - also ideal for pizza toppings.