While we may not be able to find a direct cause and effect relationship between the high hopes of a farmer and the quality of their produce, we’re confident it sure does make a difference. All plants have very similar basic needs: a source of sunlight, nutrients, and water. Anyone can learn how to grow a plant, but it takes the drive and high hopes within the farmer to grow more than just a plant; to grow an operation.
That being said, it is our pleasure to introduce you to Fresh Perspectives top 100 honoree, Melissa Mellinger of True Vine Farm in Strasburg, Pennsylvania. Melissa holds high hopes for her operation and has worked hard to make her family farm not only the source of nutrition for her community and family, but a place to learn about the produce we eat and how to be good stewards of the land through sustainable practices.
True Vine Farm CSA is a unique operation in the sense that, like Farm Credit, it’s supported by its members. CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a direct marketing concept that offers fresh, local produce to customers by way of a membership or subscription. In the spring of 2014, Melissa was eager to begin the lofty challenge of developing her CSA upon her return from a plant research internship in South America.
In the first year of operation at True Vine Farm, members were able to choose the vegetables that would be featured in their share. 2015 brought several new community farms to the area, allowing the CSA to provide a wider selection of vegetables, along with different types of products, like fruit, eggs, goat cheese, yogurt and flowers.
Melissa didn’t stop providing for her community with the development of the CSA, but also is an active member of her community, spreading her inspiration in many ways. She now teaches for the Lancaster Pennsylvania’s Boys and Girls Club after-school gardening program, showing the children where, how and when their food is grown. Melissa is also an active church youth leader, organizing a farm-to-table dinner, fundraiser and farm tour using primarily locally sourced produce and beverages.
“I cannot view farming as only a job – it is a way of life. Energy overflows from the process of creating, growing, learning and sharing,” says Melissa. It’s because of this mindset that Melissa has received such honored recognition in the category of Beginning Farmer or Rancher Achievement.
High hopes may not always mean high-quality produce, but in Melissa’s case, it means a high-quality farmer.
Please help us congratulate Melissa on her achievements by commenting below, “like” True Vine Farm on Facebook, and checking out their website!