Cassel Apiary & Produce homestead
While neither of us grew up on a farm, my husband, Mitch, worked on farms from the time he was a young boy in Amish country, in a town near Lancaster, PA. He worked with tobacco, hay and vegetables and enjoyed the homemade applesauce his mom and gramma made every fall. He has great stories of watching the women in his family cut and freeze corn for the winter.
Having operated and fixed tractors and other machinery and served in the USMC dealing with electrical work, he definitely had valuable skills to make our farming adventure less harrowing and expensive.
I grew up picking blackberries and making jams and jellies which I canned and gave to every person I know. My grandmother had chickens and grew grapes and taught me what to do with all those blackberries, but that was the only “farming” experience I had. My first growing experience was from a terrarium with a sponge, one seed and a plastic container that came from a cereal box when I was 5. That was in the early 70s when there was terrific appeal to digging deep into that box to find the PRESENT!!!! I remember how MAGICAL it seemed to me to grow something from a seed and that feeling stuck with me.
Fast forward to being an adult. Mitch and I started reading Mother Earth News magazine and went to our first Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs. We came home loaded up with cool stuff including non-GMO seeds, garlic bulbs, ideas about growing mushrooms and said…maybe we should find a farm.
We had been playing at a farmette at our cabin property with some beehives and had a big garden at home outside of Pittsburgh, but we decided that we really wanted to see if we could do farming for REAL. Could we make a homestead? Could we grow much of our own food and learn about agriculture, sustainability and all the great stuff that goes with it? We had attended two Mother Earth News Fairs now and saw all OUR PEOPLE DOING IT. It was enticing and seemed like this kind of life could offer some amazing rewards, so…
We started searching for a place that we could spread out, have our bees and maybe some chickens, water for the dogs to swim in, privacy and still be close enough to civilization that we didn’t feel too remote.
We found a cool 18 acre parcel (including 2 acre pond) with a geodesic dome home, a broken down pony barn, a pole barn with a chicken run and a nice 3 car garage in Southwest Pennsylvania. We bought the farm, literally in Spring 2017.
We loved that from the house you can literally see no neighbors. There are a few around, but you have to travel to see them. It is private. It is remote. It is on a gravel road and you have to travel several hundred yards to get down to the house.
WE LOVE the private nature of this place. We do NOT love the connectivity/technology challenge issues but… we can make do. We understand fiber optic lines may be coming our way. This will be something to celebrate if that happens.
The amount of hard work is really gratifying to us and a little mystifying to our friends but as soon as they come here, they see WHY we are doing this. And now, with a restaurant just 4 miles away, I think I will be living my BEST but busiest life and am so excited.
Our Pittsburgh friends think we are a little off to attempt this MUCH deep into middle age, but when they finally do get themselves here and look around, eyes widened, mouth agape, they have come up with some amusing observations. We live in a GROOVY Hippie House, have a new pilgrim lifestyle and everyone enjoys taking home gifts from the farm!
With this site and little restaurant and store, I want to show you there is a better and more delicious not to mention healthier way of eating and living that is quite fulfilling!!!! Yes, it is a lot of work and there are times I get so exhausted, I can’t imagine keeping on at the pace needed to accomplish everything that needs done, but after a cup of herbal tea or glass of homemade wine or mead and a little rest, I’m ready to keep going.
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Avella, PA 15312