Lucas Brownback has lived on Spiral Path Farm his whole life. Located near Loysville, PA, the farm has been the home of his parents and family for 36 years. He and his brother work the 255 acres themselves, planting and harvesting all of their produce with such personal care and detail, it’s amazing they have time for anything else! The farm was certified organic in 1994 and twenty years later, the Brownback family is still wholly committed to continuing their sustainable and organic practices. I was lucky enough to visit the farm on a beautiful day in early August, and what I saw really opened my eyes to this type of farming.
When I drove up, Lucas was on his knees picking herbs from a beautiful garden planted directly in front of his parents’ house. His father, a hobby-builder, designed the house himself. With views of the Pennsylvania mountains surrounding the farm, Spiral Path is truly a sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of the urban existence that I’ve known my whole life. The perfectly manicured and expertly organized rows of crops are breathtaking, reflecting the amount of work that goes into running a farm of this size.
The reason for my initial surprise was simply the sheer size of the whole operation. If you’ve seen Lucas’ stand at the Bethesda Central Farm Market, you’ll agree- it’s very unassuming. Beautiful produce, sure, but you would never guess the magnitude of their farm operation. Lucas tells me that much of their produce is actually sold wholesale at Wegmans, with the other majority going to their CSA customers – a great way for subscribers to receive “a wide variety of local in-season foods harvested at the peak of their ripeness, flavor, vitamin and mineral content.” The abundant bounty of produce we see at Spiral Path’s stand every weekend is nothing compared to what this farm produces on a regular basis!
Lucas only takes cash at the market. He might be one of the few vendors who continues this practice. To him, it’s a matter of principle. His goal is to keep the middleman out of the process – to promote the cash going to the producer with no hands in between. Although he will admit that this might prohibit some sales, to him, the message is the most important part. And he’ll tell you, “I drove all the way out here to bring you food, you can put in the effort to stop by the ATM on your way here!” As a patron, he said that to me when I asked about the cash-only policy. I totally got it! And I really appreciate where he’s coming from.
Stop by the Spiral Path Farm Stand on Sundays and take in the beautiful array of vibrant, colorful organic produce that Lucas and his whole family work so hard to bring to us. They have a wonderfully tasty salad mix, super fresh kale, beautiful eggplants, tomatoes, zucchini and a variety of squashes. Ask him about the farm and talk to him about what you do with your veggies. He’s always there with the biggest smile, waiting to help you eat healthfully, locally and sustainably.