Birdsong farmer owner Matt Herbruck studied sustainable agriculture at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. While there he studied with folks like Eliot Coleman and Helen Nearing. It was during this time that Matt began to develop a deep interest in local foods production as well as low impact and sustainable livelihoods. He graduated with a degree in Human Ecology in 1994. Matt's son Oscar was born in 2008 in Ellsworth, Maine. With an eye towards raising him nearer to grandparents they sold their farm in Maine and in 2009 moved to Hiram Twp. Ohio. Oscar loves to learn and discover things on the farm, and particularly enjoys digging potatoes and picking peas.
During my time in college in Maine I worked for a local vegetable farmer named Chet Curtis in a coastal village called Milbridge. He taught me many important lessons in the few years I worked for him, not least of which was the value of hard work and Yankee ingenuity. Chet wasn't organic, but he was way ahead of the curve on local foods issues. He demonstrated for me in real terms that if you were careful and extremely dedicated you could in fact earn a living being a farmer.
Upon graduation in 1994 I started my own farm in that same coastal town, called Back Bay Farm after the road and the body of water to which it was near. In the beginning there were no farmer's markets in the area, and my business was almost solely selling produce wholesale to the restaurants in the Bar Harbor region. In 1997 I achieved organic certification for that farm, and at the same time the Bar Harbor farmer's market began. In a few short years there were a number of markets in the region, and the local foods movement was in full swing. I was able to grow Back Bay Farm along with that movement, and began putting into practice many of the organic and season extension techniques I had learned about in school and from my peers.
After my son Oscar was born in 2008 it seemed important to move closer to family and perhaps a wider range of educational opportunities. I sold my farm in Maine in 2009 and bought an old dairy farm in Hiram Twp. Ohio. I loved the feel of the old house and barn, and I was very much interested in continuing the tradition of the family farm here on this property. My house was built in the early 1800's and various farming families have called it home since. Most recently it was the Rand Dairy farm, and Paul Rand ran a maple syrup operation here even after that.
We called the place Birdsong Farm, mostly after the many bird species that delight us with their voices as we work. I was able to achieve organic certification for this farm through OEFFA in 2010. I have been so pleased with the level of support and interest in local foods and organics that I have experienced in the few short years I've been in Ohio. I began a CSA program in the first year we were here, and continue to enjoy selling at local farmer's markets. With the purchase of the remaining ten acres of the old farm in late 2011, my vision for a vibrant organic farm producing vegetables, flowers, herbs, and fruit is coming clearly into focus.
My son and I are committed to the beauty and spirit of the family farm. We believe very much in the importance of clean air, water, and soil. We value open spaces and strive to preserve natural habitat. And we feel that the local foods movement is an important piece of a larger picture; one that includes a healthy community, a vibrant ecosystem, and the peaceful coexistence of all the creatures of the earth.
Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a fantastic method of connecting local foods fans to the farms and farmers that produce their food. There are a number of variations on the theme, but usually CSA takes the form of a subscription type service. A customer pays the farm an up front fee for a CSA membership, usually in the winter or early spring. They then receive a regular allotment of produce, called a CSA share, for the duration of the season. Birdsong farm shares are weekly, and there are two share sizes to choose from. When you purchase a CSA share you are in effect participating in a farm's operation. You can and should feel connected to the growing happening on your farm. It can allow you to more fully understand the process of local foods production. For example, customers often report paying renewed attention to weather events and seasonal changes.
Getting the most out of your CSA membership requires some degree of flexibility and a sense of adventure on the part of the customer. A willingness to eat seasonally and to perhaps try new things can result in a rewarding experience. And the farmer benefits not only from the guaranteed sales and some seed money in the spring, but from truly getting to know his or her customers. Nothing is more rewarding than watching a child devour fresh peas or beans that you grew. Nothing is more affirming than a compliment or a pat on the back from a CSA member that has also become a friend.
Birdsong Farm CSA started its first full season in 2010, and from the start it has been an enjoyable and important part of our business. We relish the opportunity to nurture a relationship between the land, the farmer, and the CSA members who enjoy keeping themselves and the environment healthy. Our members value the variety of our offerings, and the knowledge that they were produced in a sustainable and organic system.
Currently, Birdsong Farm CSA has about 60 regular season members and 20 winter share members. We grow 100% of what goes into our weekly shares. We never supplement our shares with produce or products grown elsewhere. This way, we can assure the organic integrity of your share. And you can be sure of exactly where your fresh, certified organic food comes from. As stated, we have two sizes of shares to choose from as well as a number of pick up locations. Go to CSA Shares to see further details of our CSA.