Frankferd Farms Road Trip

Ramblings from the Ridge


It’s been a busy week on the Ridge. And this week, I REALLY mean it! All of our days are full, but this week was especially hectic with the onset of nice weather. We spent some time in our orchard applying the techniques we learned in our tree seminar. We finally gave up and let those two stubborn hens set some eggs to hatch. We started cutting down trees to make room for our new sign and cleaned up rocks tossed into the yard by the snow blower. We got our shutters and doors painted so the house looks nice for visitors. We started a patch of horseradish with a start given to me by my sister-in-law. The highlight of the week was a road trip to Saxonburg to get some “local” flour from the Mill at Frankferd Farms.

Our interest in Frankferd Farms was inspired by our interest in locavoria. We knew that we would have to find a source of “local” grains to augment our local meats, milk and veggie diet. Our research led us to Frankferd Farms located about 60 miles southeast of us, well within our 100 mile range.

Frankferd Farms was started in 1978 when T. Lyle Ferderber and his wife, Betty purchased his parents’ farm in western Pennsylvania and began milling organic grains grown on their farm or purchased from other local growers. The demand for local and organic products inspired them to open a retail store where they sold local produce, baked goods, bulk food and a growing list of organic and natural products. By 1994, the business had expanded to the point where they had outgrown the original farm; they purchased a plot of land in Saxonburg where they built a larger warehouse and retail store. In 1999 they added an additional 6000 square feet of space and another 2500 square feet in 2003; obviously, the demand for their products continues to rise.

Most of what is sold at Frankferd Farms is grown or produced in Pennsylvania or eastern Ohio. If a desired product is not available from our area, it is purchased from a supplier that practices sustainable agriculture and eco-friendly production.

Locavoria is not an exact science; there are as many flavors of locavoria as there are practitioners. As we’ve waded into the lifestyle we’ve started to develop our own approach to a practical, workable model of locavoria.

We decided early on, for example, that we were not making a “religion” out of this; we want to make it something we can live with, so our sacrifices have been limited. We also came up with an algorithm of sorts to help us make food choices.

  1. We grow and preserve as much of our own food as possible.
  2. What we cannot grow ourselves we try to obtain from a local source.
  3. If no local source is available, we try to buy organic and American.
  4. What we cannot buy American we endeavor to buy Fair Trade.
  5. What we cannot raise or purchase local, American, or Fair Trade we will learn to do without.

So what does this mean in reality? We grow the typical Pennsylvania staples – beans, squash, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, peas, salad greens, strawberries, blueberries, and grapes. We buy our milk from a local licensed fresh milk farm. We are (now) purchasing our flour and grain products from a local mill that uses (relatively) locally grown grains. Our oils, coffee, and other products that cannot be produced locally come from organic Fair Trade suppliers – those who do not use industrial manufacturing methods on food products, and who supply through cooperatives and other entrepreneurial ventures that ensure that more of the purchasing dollar makes it to the producer, rather than a corporate middle man.

One of the main things we are committing to is “voting with our dollars.” We are voting against waste, against large scale industrial farms, against government intrusion and over regulation. We are voting for safe, nutritious, sustainable food sources. We are not spending more dollars on our food; we are simply learning to be more careful where those dollars go. We’re investing a bit of good old fashioned elbow grease to get what we want in our food supply. We invite others to join us in this unusual movement.  We are endeavoring to build, in the Locavorium, a resource for those who would like to join us in voting with your food dollars while increasing your family’s health and wellness.

Until next week,


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