Local Heroes Farm/Farmer: Teddy Moynihan of Plowshare Farms
Teddy Moynihan, 32, is part of a new generation of farmers—farmers who grew up during the peak of crop commodification. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that what followed was this interest in trying to get back to local farms and local food systems,” he says.
Rebelling against the monoculture era, Moynihan and his wife, Faith Brutus Moynihan (who teaches high-school math), grow a staggering diversity of crops on eight acres in northern Montgomery County. In the spring, they’re harvesting frilly mustard greens, mizuna greens and spotted heads of castelfranco radicchio. Come fall, they’re curing giant speckled hound pumpkins and shelling spotted calypso beans.
Plowshare’s produce has caught the eye of chefs at restaurants like Fork, Nomad Pizza and a.kitchen. “The chefs there recognize a kindred passion for flavor and for how interesting and exciting a vegetable can be,” Moynihan says. Cooks and servers from those restaurants occasionally come out for work days on the farm. “They want to see where their food comes from,” Moynihan says, “and be in community with people who care as deeply about food as they do.” Chefs like Alex Garfinkel of Balboa Catering collaborate with Plowshare to host farm dinners where people enjoy a meal in the very field where the ingredients were grown.
This season, Plowshare will have a stand at the Saturday market in Rittenhouse Square and distribute produce through their CSA to members in Philadelphia and Bucks County (they plan to sell 25 shares this year). Those boxes won’t just be packed with fresh vegetables—Moynihan makes a point to grow storage crops and staples like dry beans and corn that can be ground for polenta. “I realize that so many people want to eat local,” he says. “And the bulk of our calories come from grains, staples and meat.” He raises a small flock of sheep to supply members and restaurants with local meat.
While raising all that nourishing food, Plowshare Farms also prioritizes good land stewardship. The Tinicum Conservancy protects the land Moynihan cultivates, and he makes long-term improvements as he raises vegetables and meat, like planting trees to serve as a windbreak. “People who get into this kind of farming are looking not just 30 years down the road, but 100 years down the road,” Moynihan says. “The biggest investments we make are in the soil.” That includes planting cover crops like buckwheat, daikon radish and clover, as well as composting manure from their own sheep in the fields. “We want it to continue to produce really good stuff for us, but also for generations into the future.”
111 Stover Park Rd., Pipersville