by Denise Gierula
While most of you are still snug in your beds on Saturday morning, Carol and Lynn Hoagland, along with their daughter, Sandy, have been up before dawn preparing to drive the 75 miles from Elysburg to our market. Carol says, “While I do not particularly enjoy waking at 5 A.M. on Saturday morning, the hours of 8 to 12 are very rewarding not just for what we are able to sell at market, but for the wonderful people that we are getting to know. The folks at Antietam Valley have made us feel welcome and accepted as part of their community and that makes the whole experience special for Sandy and me.”
Nestled in the heart of east-central Pennsylvania’s farming region, Hoagland Farms, purchased by Lynn’s parents in 1955, is comprised of 235 acres. Lynn and Carol Hoagland farm 75 acres, rent out 60 acres and the remainder is woodland. “We raise hogs (of course!) along with corn, hay, small grains, fruits and vegetables. We are proud owners of three barred rock hens who keep the family in fresh eggs. Sandy has two and a half horses (one is a mini horse). We also currently have two dogs, a cat, two kittens and various barn cats. Our produce stand, located on the farm, is now open for the summer and we sell everything at the stand that we have at market,” says Carol. While the Hoaglands are busy farming, gathering and picking throughout the week, Friday is their busiest day. You will find Carol washing the last onions, boxing up vegetables and fruits late Friday afternoon, while Lynn picks corn just before sunset on Friday evening so that it is as fresh as possible for market on Saturday morning. It doesn’t get much fresher then that!
Carol and Lynn met at the Penn State Hazleton Campus where he earned a degree in Agriculture, and Carol a degree in Secondary Education. When not farming, Lynn is a tax preparer for Jackson Hewitt from January to April, Carol teaches secondary math and physics, and Sandy is a music teacher. In August, Carol and Lynn will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary and together have four children – all married – along with 13 2/3 grandchildren, two of which are in the foster care/adoption process. “None of our kids chose farming as a profession, although Sandy loves to bring her 3 kids to the farm where they help with the produce business,” said Carol, “Lynn plans to farm until he can’t do the work. I am looking forward to retiring from teaching so that I can spend more time with my grandchildren and keeping up with the produce. Farming is hard work and most people will not get rich on a family farm. However, I believe it is the greatest place in the world to raise a family.”
I asked Carol what we could expect to see Hoagland selling at market in the upcoming weeks and she said, “We are moving into full production with many of our crops and will have different fruits and vegetables as the season progresses. We will be offering many varieties of sweet corn and will have some excellent recommendations for those who want to freeze or can corn. We will have string beans throughout the summer and Roma tomatoes for canning and sauce in August. Melons are just starting to ripen and we will have some gourmet varieties. In addition, we will be offering peaches, plums, apricots, and apples over the coming weeks including my favorite – the Saturn peach. As the summer winds down, we will begin offering lima beans, more string beans and our Cole crops – fall broccoli, cauliflower, Romanesque, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts. Our grandkids love the fall as we start to harvest and sell pumpkins, winter squash, Indian corn and gourds.”
While Hoagland brings a delicious array of fruits and vegetables to market, they also sell the best pork in the world, or at least the best in Berks County. Come to market early because their smoked, hormone-free pork chops sell out quickly, as do their ribs, bacon and ham hocks. (That means, get in line before the four of us do!) Need advice on how to cook or prepare the pork? Just ask Carol or Sandy – they come prepared with recipes, tips and instructions to help even the novice cook pork to succulent perfection.
Hoagland hogs are born and purchased from a local farm, fed a diet of Hoagland grown corn and local soybean that is ground into meal at a local mill. “The “Pig Palace” is a 40-year-old building designed to hold up to 250 hogs although we “usually keep 150 or less ”, Carol said. “Lynn has raised hogs since he was very young. As an only child, he was encouraged to try different aspects of farming. Raising hogs and growing pumpkins were his top choices.” Once Hoagland hogs weigh in at 250 to 275 pounds, they are taken to Wehry Brothers in Klingerstown to be butchered, smoked and enjoyed at markets, local auctions and lucky individuals in their community.
I asked Carol why hogs and not chickens or steers? She said, “Lynn’s parents had a very large chicken flock of laying hens. We continued with the chickens until a tragedy occurred in 1996 when our landmark barn burned to the ground on a cold February morning. We lost all of the chickens in the fire, several barn cats and a fair amount of machinery. In planning a new barn, we decided against chickens and chose to take our farm business a different direction. Lynn planted a small orchard and we increased production of roadside market vegetables.”
With a distance of 75 miles between Elysburg and the Antietam Valley, I could not resist questioning why Hoagland chose Antietam’s market instead of a market closer to home. Carol replied, “We began marketing in the Philadelphia area at the invitation of the Food Trust. It was a good experience for us so we expanded to a start-up market in Phoenixville. We believe that the Antietam Market has the potential to be as successful as Phoenixville. We have not been disappointed. The location is great, the managers have done a great job and the people are as nice as can be.”Hoagland Farms is a full time, weekly vendor and while they do not accept credit cards, they do take WIC coupons.
Heading to Knoebels Amusement Park with the family this summer? Hoagland Farms is less than a minute away from Knoebels and has a well-stocked, self-serve farm stand. Plug their farm address into your GPS (2905 State Route 511, Elysburg, PA 17824) and make a stop on the way home from the park!
HOAGLAND FARMS SHORTCAKE PUDDING
I requested a simple summer dessert recipe from Carol that could incorporate the fresh fruit in season from their farm: sweet or sour cherries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or peaches would all work well in the following recipe. It would actually make the perfect dessert after a delicious Hoagland pork dinner.
2 Tbsps. butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 cups flour
2 tsps. baking powder
Mix the first 5 ingredients well and pour into a 9 x 11 cake pan.
2 cups fruit, cleaned and sliced into small pieces (if using peaches)
1 cup sugar
1 cup hot water
Spread fruit over batter, sprinkle evenly with sugar and pour hot water over the top.
Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes. Serve warm with milk, ice cream, or just the way it is!