Wow, I think it is safe to say that 2020 has had more twists and turns in it than any of us could have ever expected. We started our year off in January with Jonathan starting a new job. This was a job that had been in the works for over 6 months, so it was such a relief and excitement when he was able to take on his new roles. In February we worked on the documents that were going to be needed to close on the purchase of Hickory View Farms and the beginning of designing the building plans for our future house on that land. In March…the pandemic began. Life changed dramatically for everyone.
For us, Janna went back to rotating days/nights 12 hour shifts as she got redeployed to be an ICU nurse. During the spring we stayed busy with listing our house for sale (and then closing on it), packing, and moving into a rental. Our house plans got delayed, as it did for many people who were in any stage of building a house, so we were lucky enough to be able to live in a rental that is adjacent to the property being purchased as the home of Hickory View Farms.
In addition to moving we also tore down a greenhouse that belonged to Janna’s grandparents in Westfield, PA, and relocated it to Hickory View Farms. We were able to get the frame of the greenhouse up and covered with plastic, but not without the amazing help of our family and friends. In the midst of putting up the greenhouse we also were busy getting our flower fields ready for our first season of flower farming on our new property. I think it is safe to say that this first year on our new land was a HUGE learning curve for us. Some things went really well, others didn’t go well at all, but through it all we learned so much for future seasons.
Being that it was our first year on our new land, hours upon hours was spent getting the ground ready. Not only did we cultivate the ground to get it ready for planting, but we also spent hours and hours and more hours picking rocks. It is definitely safe to say that we grow the rocks big on our farm! Once we had the soil ready we planted transplants (baby plants in the ground), in addition to starting seeds directly in the ground. Most of this was done in the month of May. By the end of June we were starting to see our first blooms and by the beginning of July we were able to start selling bouquets with flowers grown directly on our farm, what a labor of love!
One of the many challenges that we were faced with was a lack of water. Being that building our house got delayed, we did not have any water on the property yet. And as many of you know this was a very dry summer for all of us, we went over 6 weeks without any measurable rainfall. A lack of water was definitely one of our biggest hurdles, but we eventually were able to come up with a system that allowed us to pump water from a friend’s stream and then transfer it onto our plants, which they responded incredibly well to as new life was seen in the plants.
We finished our 2020 flower season by growing a significant number of sunflowers for a sunflower themed wedding. Again, this season had numerous up’s and down’s, but through it all we gained so much knowledge that we are planning to use in future years for our flower business. We have been busy since then with ordering seeds and perennial plants, planting peonies and bulbs, and working on getting our flower beds put to sleep for the winter and prepped for next spring.
Not only did Jonathan start a new job in 2020, but in September Janna also transferred departments and started a new job as well. We were able to spend some time away with both friends and family, adventuring, traveling, hiking, and relaxing. The fall was busy with delivering shares of both beef and pork to our customers, working on a refrigerated trailer that will be used to haul shares to our customers and also for keeping our fresh cut flowers when we have more that what fits in our standard refrigerator. We continue to work on the greenhouse, enclosing the ends and sides and working on the heating system as we hope to be able to use it to start seeds in the spring of 2021.
Christmas is a season that Jonathan and I have grown to look forward to each and every year. There is just something so special about the lights, the traditions, the family time, but most importantly the reason for the season, the birth of our Savior. One of the traditions that has grown to be so special for us is to go and pick a fresh cut Christmas tree, bring it home, and decorate it within our home. There is just something about the smell of fresh pine and the twinkle of lights on our tree that helps to get us in the Christmas spirit. In years past, when we have selected our Christmas tree, we have also purchased a fresh wreath to adorn our house.
This year we decided to branch out our offerings and to begin creating and designing fresh cut Christmas wreaths right on our farm. We are using greens that have been grown local in Pennsylvania, along with winterberry and holly berry. Each wreath is unique, some with just greens, others with winterberry or holly berry. Some are adorned with pinecones (collected from our own farm). Others have bows which are also handmade on our farm.
Learning the art of Christmas wreath making has been a new adventure for both of us. We purchased a wreath crimping machine this fall and each of our wreaths is produced on this machine. It certainly took a few tries for us to get the hang of it.
In addition to all of the projects on the farm, and both of us working full time, we also finally broke ground on our future house at the beginning of November. We are so excited about this and cannot wait to see it take form over the upcoming months!! With that being said, we have decided that we need to find a little bit better work-farm-life balance. Because of all of the changes that 2020 has brought us, we have made the very hard decision to stop selling cuts of meat. Once our current stock of pork and beef is sold out, we will not be restocking those freezers. We will continue to offer shares of beef and pork. Our beef shares will continue in quarters, halves, and wholes, and we will begin offering eight share bundles as well. Pork shares will be offered in halves and wholes.
Our plan for 2021 will be to offer pork and beef shares, fresh cut flowers (seasonally), apparel, maple syrup (locally made in Tioga County, PA), and farm-crafted Christmas greens.
Thank you for your support over this past whirlwind of a year!! Again, we would not be here without you, our faithful customers. Please stay with us as we begin our first full year on the home of Hickory View Farms!
Jonathan and Janna Bastian