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‘Little Sugar Bombs’

By Aura Hill


Steve Prescott 
Photo: Nathan Merkel. Steve Prescott Photo: Nathan Merkel. From Bainbridge to Hershey

Fourth generation farmer Steve Prescott from Bainbridge leaned over one of the long bushy rows of strawberry plants, reaching beneath the leaves to check the ripeness of the fruit. For the 17 years he has farmed Prescott’s Patch, and for the generations that preceded him, they have always grown strawberries.

“We have always been known for our strawberries,” Prescott said. “When I was a kid, we sold them at Groff’s, at Hetrick’s, had pick your own. We sold them at the market in Carlisle.”

Prescott’s Patch will also be selling strawberries and other produce at Hershey’s Market on Chocolate between 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. from the first Saturday in June to the last Saturday in September. This is Prescott’s first year as the anchor produce stand at Market on Hershey.

Each year, Prescott plants a small amount of several different varieties that are new to the farm, in addition to their seasonal staple - Earliglow, described on Prescott’s Patch blog as “little sugar bombs … the gold standard of strawberries.”

“We will have strawberries for the first three weeks of market in Hershey. We grow a lot of berries – raspberries, blackberries, black raspberries, blueberries,” he said. “Vegetables run from asparagus to zucchini.”

Prescott’s Patch is a five-acre eco-organic farm nestled alongside the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania.

In addition to being market regulars at Hershey on Saturday and Carlisle on Wednesdays, the farm supports 100 CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares annually. Prescott’s Patch is a single-farm, family-owned CSA that has served Lancaster, York, Dauphin, and Cumberland county communities for over 15 years. Prescott stresses that all produce in their shares and at weekly markets comes from their family farm in Bainbridge, Lancaster County.

He added that there are still several CSA shares available. Those interested can get information from them at Market or on their website. CSA members can pick up their produce at one of five locations: Lancaster, Carlisle, Hellam, Bainbridge and Hershey.

“There are not many true farmers markets these days,” he said. “Some vendors simply buy produce from farmers and resell it. I have no interest in selling another farmer’s produce. It is not fulfilling.”

Prescott came back to the family farm 17 years ago after having worked as Director of Sports and Entertainment and Director of Major Events at Hersheypark Arena and at Clemson University. He followed his passion for the outdoors by spending as much time as possible paddling whitewater and backpacking, and eventually he went on two thru hikes, the Appalachian Trail in 1999 and the Pacific Crest Trail in 2000.

It was while hiking that he decided to come home to central Pennsylvania and start an organic produce farm on his family land.

“I came back to my roots,” he said. “I have been doing this for 17 years. The site is supportive, I have the freedom to call my own shots and I am always learning to find great value in what I do.

“Some say that farming is the greatest gamble. Each year is different. 2014-15 was a great growing season. Last year was the most difficult with extreme heat and drought. This year has been an interesting start. I expect the insects will be worse since the winter was not cold enough to kill them off,” he said.

“All farmers question their sanity from time to time. Farming takes stick-to-itiveness. It takes motivation. It is good physical and mental work.”

As an eco-organic farmer, Prescott is not USDA certified organic by choice.

“I am really strict about what we do here. Nothing we do is not on USDA’s list. I just don’t agree with all of their practices,” he said.

He cites USDA’s approval of the use of plastic mulch for weed control and the use of copper products as fungicides.

“If I am going to work this land, we need to control weeds. Hoeing, pulling weeds, using a vintage cultivator or putting down paper does enough. It keeps the earth in better shape. Black plastic creates too much petroleum waste that ends up in landfills or is burned right in the field. We also don’t want to risk chemicals leaching into our soil from UVbombarded plastic mulch,” he said.

Regarding copper products, he feels that while copper products are OK’d for organic use, over time, copper builds up in the soil and affects the microbes in the soil.

“We are not your conventional organic farm. I am driven by caring for this little piece of land and I want to keep caring for it,” he said.

“As we enter year 17 of Prescott’s Patch, we will continue to provide fresh, nutrient-dense, organic berries and veggies to our community,” he said. “We confidently believe that you won’t find produce that is purer and grown with a higher level of integrity anywhere.”

For more information about Prescott’s Patch or its CSA program, go to prescottspatch.com or visit their Facebook page.


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