Protecting Local Foods
July 13, 2019
(This article originally ran in the Summer 2019 Open Views publication.)
Three and a half miles north of the center of Lititz, along Pennsylvania Route 501, drivers cross the bridge over Hammer Creek and find themselves driving through the middle of Mervin Weaver’s 70-acre farm.
Motorists making the drive between Lititz and Brickerville will know the site of the Weaver farm by the sign and roadside stand, or “shed” as the family refers to it. The structure is perched at the end of the gravel driveway with a sign enticing passersby with a list of the day’s fresh-picked delights.
More than 50-years after Mervin’s father purchased the property, Mervin, his wife Shirley, and their three daughters, have transformed the former dairy farm into a thriving produce farm.
“It’s the farmer that’s in a person that motivates you to keep going,” Mervin justifies of his sometimes 14-16-hour days on the farm. “I love to watch plants grow. I get excited in the spring seeing seeds come through the ground.”
Mervin’s love of the land also motivated him to protect it. In 2010, the Weavers signed away their right to develop the land, permanently preserving their farm with Lancaster Farmland Trust. The 70-acre farm serves as a tangible reminder of the Weaver’s family history, and a canvas for future generations of Weavers who also are inspired to cultivate life from the fertile soil along Hammer Creek.
“We’ve gotten to know our own community, and that feels good,” Shirley smiles with stories of recognizing neighbors at their children’s school events and church gatherings.
The family has met people from all over the world through their stand – travelers are drawn to Lancaster County for a taste of Pennsylvania Dutch hospitality and homegrown vegetables. Both of which the Weavers offer in spades.
Mervin and Shirley have found that customers today are less informed on how produce is grown. They take time to explain their farming practices to inquisitive patrons. Mervin is transparent with how their produce is grown – “many people want ‘no-spray’ vegetables, but they don’t fully get the concept. We don’t spray more than we have to, and we eat [the vegetables] too.”
Memorial Day through Thanksgiving, the little shed is chocked full of fresh vegetables, chicken eggs, duck eggs, and more – depending on the week.
The stand is open from 9 am until 6 pm, but before Mervin is chatting with customers at the shed, he’s out in the fields checking on his crop, managing weeds, picking ripe vegetables and cultivating fresh ground for a new batch of sweet corn – his biggest seller.
Farm stands, like the Weaver’s, aren’t hard to come by in Lancaster County. But they are what makes our county so special.
Take special time this summer to visit a nearby farm stand and support local farmers.