MIFFLINBURG, Pennsylvania — When Jonathan and Janna Bastian of Hickory View Farms purchased their 21-acre property several years ago in Union County, Pennsylvania, they had a clear vision. They knew the house they wanted to build and the farm they wanted to create for the health of their family. As the COVID-19 pandemic delayed their home building plans, they finally moved in in May 2021, having already established about an acre of flowers.
Now married for five years, the couple work full-time at Evangelical Community Hospital. He was a Physician Assistant and is now Chief of Operations for Emergency Medical Services or Emergency Medical Services. She grew up on a farm, but works as a nurse at the outpatient surgery center. They are also parents to a busy toddler.
Plus, they run a multi-faceted farming business that includes cut flowers, handmade Christmas wreaths, and slices of beef and pork.
From the beginning, every aspect of their farm was rooted in sustainable practices such as rainwater conservation and solar power.
“The goal of the farm is to bring local produce into people’s homes, expanding the food-to-plate movement beyond food to sustainable products,” said Jonathan, 31.
Working in health-related careers informed part of their focus on healthy, holistic living. On the Hickory View Farms website, he said, “We value our faith in God, our marriage, our family and our well-being. It’s hard to define wellness, but since I’m in the medical field by training, I think about being healthy in our minds and bodies. In the spirit of speed, diets have become terrible and America’s health continues to deteriorate.
A flourishing success
This year’s flower growing season, which began with tulips and daffodils in April and continued through September, featured 60 different flower varieties and colors. These included cosmos, yarrow, rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan), delphinium, shiny thistle, sunflower, orlaya, sedum, eucalyptus, zinnia, celosia, gomphrena , basil and mint. The couple are most proud of their peonies, including 270 more this year, and unique flower varieties like lisianthus.
During the 2022 growing season, Hickory View Farms sold 75% of its flowers wholesale to two companies: Gilly’s Lilies in Mifflinburg and the gift shop at Evangelical Community Hospital. The remaining 25% was sold through cut flower subscriptions and do-it-yourself wedding buckets with farm pickup or local delivery available.
The Bastians are expanding their floriculture in 2023 to sell flowers to a new business called Dash Meal Solutions in Danville, a local version of popular meal kit company, Hello Fresh, in which meals are tailored to the needs and preferences of a customer. .
Janna, 32, said the relationship with the hospital gift shop was natural and obvious since they both work there. But, the relationship with Gilly’s Lilies involved a bit of serendipity, she said.
“I started following (the florist) on Instagram and she had posted a photo with one of the flowers we grow, lisianthus (saying how unusual they were). We had a ton of them, so I contacted her,” Janna said.
For the hospital gift shop, “Essentially all the hospital gift shop sells (from spring to fall) are our flowers. They know us when we go through the main entrance,” she said with a smile.
Last summer was extraordinarily dry, so the couple spent a lot of time on drought prevention.
Jonathan said: “We have a rainwater harvesting system on site, so all the rain that runs off the back of our house is pumped underground to a reservoir. We are installing two additional tanks in our water management system. »
They also use solar panels on the house to generate every kilowatt hour used by the family and the farm.
The couple admit they are at the start of their farming business and are still learning. Thus, three resource groups have been essential to their continued learning and growth, including memberships in Pasa Sustainable Agriculture, the Farmer-Florist Collective, and the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. They are also members of the Slow Flowers Society and Rooted Farmers.
Diversify for the holidays
Now that the growing season is over and the holidays have arrived, the couple are focusing on making wreaths. They use a seamer and local greens from Hill View Christmas Tree Farm in Middleburg, owned by Darryl Bowersox.
Founded in 1954, Hill View was selected to provide Washington, D.C.’s national Christmas tree in 2021. It was a concolor fir that was planted on the north side of the Ellipse between the White House and the Washington Monument .
The Bastians make wreaths with a mix of Douglas fir, Frasier fir and white pine, as well as handmade pine cones, berries and bows.
Wreath making comes naturally to Janna, who fondly recalls learning the skill as part of her high school FFA experience.
For the second year in a row, the couple spent their Thanksgiving week creating handcrafted wreaths, garlands and galvanized cans with greens as part of a fundraiser with the Selinsgrove Chorus Boosters.
Rounding out their farm’s offering, the farm sells grain-finished Angus beef from Janna’s parents’ farm in Tioga County, Heyler Farms, where she grew up, and Shuey Farm. In recent years, the Bastiens have sold approximately 13 to 15 beef steers per year.
“People tend to focus on the grass-fed part, but the grain finish is what gives it the nice marbling and taste,” Janna said.
Jonathan said no hormones or antibiotics were given to beef cattle to promote weight gain. Beef is available in quarters, halves and wholes in the fall. Farm customers include current and former co-workers, church friends and neighbors.
Going forward, the couple plans to expand their offerings to include a small orchard, so the farm can become a local destination for pick-your-own flowers and heirloom cider apple varieties.
For more information, visit the website at HickoryViewFarms.com or search for it on Facebook.
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