JOSIE PORTER FARM
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
- The Josie Porter Farm is at 6514 Cherry Valley Road, Stroudsburg, PA. Call 570-992-5731.
- The farm store is open 2-6 p.m. Wednesday, 12-6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, offering products grown on the farm and sourced locally. The farm is not certified organic — yet — but practices all organic farming.
- CSA shares available. The farm is open to the public for walking. Open mic nights on Wednesdays in summer. Sledding hill in winter.
- Heidi Secord is active in agriculture locally and nationally. She is state president and board chair of the Pennsylvania Farmers Union, board member of the National Farmers Union, and former board member of Pennsylvania State Council of Farm Organizations, PASA Sustainable Agriculture, and Monroe County Conservation District. Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding nominated her to serve on the state’s Conservation Commission, and she was unanimously confirmed. Heidi received the 2021 Lifetime Achievement in Conservation Award from PennFuture.
Five acres at Josie Porter Farm are planted in different crops throughout the season. Here, garlic is almost ready to harvest.
Heavy rainfall makes the creek run high and muddy.
Josie Porter Farm welcomes you
By Carol Hillestad
The shade-and-sun road to Josie Porter Farm is narrow, with some hills and bends. On one side, the ridge closes in. On the other, the valley opens, and you can catch glimmers of Cherry Creek. It’s the kind of country road you don’t see that much anymore.
The farmer, Heidi Secord, greets me at the farm store, a tidy white building set in a pretty garden of peonies, pink clematis, and the green seed heads of allium, an ornamental onion. A playground keeps kids occupied while their parents pick up shares of the organically grown vegetables and other products Heidi sells.
“Heidi is a friend of nature,” says Ed Cramer, Stroud Township supervisor. “Josie Porter Farm has become a community treasure thanks to her vision.”
Vision — and a lot of hard work on the part of Heidi and her husband, Gary Bloss.
Stroud Township had purchased the 48 acres along a stretch of Cherry Creek in 2004, with funding from the township and Monroe County’s Open Space bond. Ed had studied the benefits of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and how organic farming practices helped keep creek waters clean and pure while building up soil health and providing healthy, natural food for the community.
“Heidi was an experienced farmer when she presented the plan to use the land for CSA,” he says. “We thought it was a perfect fit.”
Fourteen years later, Stroud’s decision has borne fruit — and vegetables, eggs, cheese, and bakery goods, along with a strong sense of community.
Half of the land is open to the public for hiking. After showing me around the store and children’s garden, Heidi led the way toward the creek.
Cherry Creek is narrow here, running high and fast after heavy rains. The headwaters gather about seven miles upstream from where we are standing and meander through the valley, fed along the way by small runs that flow from Kittatinny Mountain. The creek courses under Route 611 in the village of Delaware Water Gap, then joins the Delaware River, on its way to becoming drinking water for 13 million people.
As we head away from the creek along wide, mown paths, birdsong fills the woods — Heidi says she’s seen scarlet tanager, Baltimore oriole, and an indigo bunting this spring. We skirt a large, cultivated field surrounded by deer exclosure fencing. The cover crop of rye will soon be tilled into the soil. Long rows of garlic look just about ready to harvest. Soon planting will begin for tomatoes, peppers, greens, and squash.
As we say good-bye, Heidi points me toward a path that climbs a small, steep hill near the farm store. From the top through a lush growth of woodland, I can just catch sight of the valley below.
But sometimes the real view is behind you. As I turn back down the hill, the farm store in its quiet hollow seems to glow against a backdrop of long green ridge. It’s a sight that encourages you to slow down a little, and be grateful.
Carol Hillestad of Cresco is a writer and hike leader for Get Outdoors Poconos, a free hike series administered by Brodhead Watershed Association.
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