Producer of the Week: Jack’s Farm

Jack's Farm“We’re USDA Certified Organic,” said Dan Heckler. “It’s just the right thing to do when it comes to producing food.”

Dan and his wife, Deb, own and operate Jack’s Farm. Over 15 years ago, they started their Pottstown farm from scratch to offer certified organic, non-GMO vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers. Their children provided the impetus to follow these strict farming practices. “Having children really  made us both stop and make more deliberate choices in how we’re farming,” Dan shared.

A commitment to organic agriculture is a commitment to preserving the environment. In order to abide by this commitment, farmers who seek the USDA Certified Organic designation must adhere to a number of organic standards. These include avoiding chemical fertilizers, using organic seed, welcoming regular on-site inspections, keeping detailed crop records, and much more.

“It’s really the only farming method where the rules are public and the standards are routinely checked by a third party,” Dan said.

Dan credits his crew of dedicated farm hands with the growth of Jack’s Farm. “You know, the myth of the ‘dumb farmer’ isn’t true,” he said. “There’s so much planning and foresight, plus physicality, needed in this business that it’s not for the faint of heart!”

Dan learned this himself from a very young age. “I grew up in a farm situation,” Dan explained. “My Dad raised antibiotic-free turkeys for Whole Foods. It was a large-scale agriculture operation.” Dan’s Mom also grew up on a dairy farm in central Pennsylvania.

Despite its name, Jack’s Farm isn’t named for a specific “Jack.” Instead, the name is meant to signify a farmer’s need to be a “jack of all trades” to farm successfully. Dan is one of these “jacks,” using his multiple skills and talents to grow the farm business.

“For me personally,” Dan said, “I am using virtually every one of my talents from planning to mechanical inclination to research and customer service.”

You can find Jack’s Farm at the UM Farmers Market every Saturday. All of Dan’s products are popular among market patrons. Be sure to check them out and see this commitment to sustainable farming practices for yourself.

“We love our customers!” Dan said. The feeling is mutual!

Producer of the Week: Nurturing Nature Farm

Cathy Olsen used to dream of having a farm to grow herbs and flowers. “I’ve always loved to grow things and dig in the dirt,” she said. Three years ago Cathy’s dream became a reality when she started Nurturing Nature Farm.

Cathy helps a patron at the market. Photo by Copper Lantern Pictures.

Cathy helps a patron at the market. Photo by Copper Lantern Pictures.

Cathy not only likes to dig in the dirt, she also likes to make one-of-a-kind creations from the items she grows. From her beautifully painted gourds to her wood plank flower holders, it’s clear that Cathy is an artist at heart. “I love to draw, and now I find I can combine my interests in art and growing. It really makes me smile,” she said.

“I also really like this market,” Cathy said. “I like that I can make something different and bring it here.” Cathy values the fact that the patrons are so friendly and eager to talk with her about her flowers, plants, and artistry creations.

Cathy uses organic practices to provide fresh cut flowers and fresh herbs. “I think it’s important that people have a source of herbs that are pesticide free and organically grown,” Cathy shared. Of all the herbs Cathy sells at her booth at the market, basil is the number one seller, followed closely by cilantro.

Pay Cathy a visit on your next trip to the market. You’ll get to experience her creative artistry and be inspired to dig in the dirt yourself!

PRODUCER SPECIAL: This week Cathy is offering two of her strawberry plants on sale for $5.