Now, more than ever, attention is being drawn to the food industry’s practice of factory farming, causing more and more people to choose organic produce when grocery shopping or grow their own food at home. Sustainable home farming has been becoming more popular with local families.
Rose Kelly, a Lehighton resident, grew up on a farm, and has chosen to give her children the same character building experience. Although Kelly wouldn’t describe her farm as “huge,” her family manages to grow quite a bit, including potatoes, corn, onions, zucchini, eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower, and strawberries among other crops. Her family cultivates up to six varieties of tomatoes as a means of making their own tomato sauces and ketchup as opposed to buying from the store. “I’m very concerned with ingredients,” says Kelly. “I know what they’re [her children] are eating. I know what I’m giving them.”
Along with the plethora of plants Kelly’s family grows, they also have grass fed chickens, her son Vincent’s birthday wish and responsibility, and cats that keep the mice under control. “We had zero mice problems this past winter,” says Kelly. They are hoping to add both a pig and a goat to her family farm, although her husband Danny is a bit dubious about the latter.
Sustainable home farming reaps many benefits. The Kelly family has made a number of friends who also have an interest in farming. Seeds, plants, and tips are exchanged among the network of farmers. Through home farming, Kelly is also able to closely monitor what her family is eating, and avoid additives and processed ingredients such as dyes and corn syrups which can negatively affect the human body. Along with all of the personal benefits of family farming there are also an abundance of environmental benefits. Plants are raised without toxic chemicals, and animals are not treated with growth hormones or harmful antibiotics. Soil is preserved through methods that prevent erosion and contamination.
Kelly also offers her advice to anyone who is interested in starting their own farm at home: “Start small, don’t take on too much, and do your research.” By heeding this simple, but pragmatic advice, a success garden, whether large or small, is possible.