On a recent work trip to Philadelphia, I was lucky enough to stay near Reading Terminal Market, a place I’d never visited in many a visit to the city. It was so fun to have in my backyard for a few days; anyone that knows me well knows I love a good market — farmer’s market, natural foods market, supermarket, you name it — and I’m the weirdo that likes to walk up and down the aisles to see what’s on shelf (…or what’s new if it’s a regular haunt. Sometimes I really wonder why I don’t pack it in and go work at the Portland Whole Foods. I haven’t ruled it out.).
Anyway, Reading Terminal Market is awesome and includes everything from cheesesteaks to Amish women slinging fruit butters to green juice to cannoli. And in my meandering I came across the Fair Food Farmstand — and a wall of seeds from Happy Cat Farm. I recognize that this is a total case of judging a book (er, seed packet) by its cover, but for good reason. Just look at them!
The imagery makes me want to quit my job and commandeer Martha Stewart’s farm operation (I guess this would come after I join the Whole Foods army? Before? I dunno. I clearly have lots of pipe dream alternative career plans) for my own. Or this lovely home garden in Carlisle, MA.
Thankfully, Happy Cat Farm delivers on its stylish first impression with some serious substance. Owned by Tim and Amy Mountz and based in Kennett Square, PA, Happy Cat Farm’s website says its home is “where the slow farming revolution begins,” and explains that the farm “exists to teach people how to grow and forage their own food sustainably.”
It’s also clear that a commitment to seed diversity is a core operating principle. Oodles of tomato varieties (speaking of tomatoes, here’s a throwback NPR story on mass-produced tomatoes and the book Tomatoland that I distinctly remember listening to while walking around my Fayetteville, AR kitchen on an ungodly hot summer day), vegetables I’ve never heard of like the blue podded capucijner’s pea in the top image in this post, and herbs and seeds — even chia seeds?! — to boot.
After learning more about Happy Cat Farm, I found it hard to believe that this place was truly a best-kept secret. I was right: I’m not sure how I missed this but its tomato seeds are available through Williams-Sonoma. There’s quite a variety available direct through the farm’s website and at a few other retail locations.
I sadly don’t have a garden to call my own right now in either Boston or Portland. We had a decent run with a few potted plants in DC — with seeds from Frager’s, which I miss dearly — and the interest has been dormant since moving back to New England over a year and a half ago. Now that spring is here this year, though, I’m feeling like it’s time to reincorporate some greenery into our lives.