Couple’s local farm supports community health - and joy - while growing food sustainably

Weathertree Farm and Market in Hanover Twp. offers ‘Farm Box’ subscription.

The farm-to-table movement has taken the restaurant world by storm, prioritizing locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients and sustainable and ethical farming. However, restaurants are not the only ones partaking. Individual consumers want to buy locally-sourced, sustainably-farmed produce, too.

One local farm, Weathertree Farm and Market in Hanover Twp., allows consumers to buy produce directly from the source.

The owners, Wes and Mindy Flach, have a unique journey to owning a farm. They started in Christian ministry and working with people in recovery from addiction. That work inspired the idea of a working farm with a focus on caring for the Earth and those on the margins of society.

“We have been dreaming for many years of creating a farm and intentional Christian community that would welcome those in recovery from addiction to come live and work as part of their continuing journey of healing,” Wes Flach said. “Our hope is to make high-quality aftercare available to those who would not otherwise be able to afford it by making work on the farm an integral part of the recovery experience, along with the radical embrace of a loving community.”

Weathertree Farm and Market is the first stage of that dream. Its goals are simple: To grow healthy food for the community in an ecologically sustainable way, strengthen community ties through local food economies and increase joy and health throughout the community.

The Flachs bought the farm in April 2022 and immediately began repairing buildings, planting, adding water lines, building a greenhouse and preparing the infrastructure, as well as putting the word out on Facebook. The response, Wes said, was overwhelming. Weathertree Farm and Market opened on May 19 of this year, and it already has devoted customers.

The name is symbolic of hope, the couple said. It stems from something a neighbor said to the Flachs: “I hope you can get that front fence row cleared of all the honeysuckle so I can see the weather tree again.” She proceeded to tell them about a towering red oak on the property that she had known since she moved to the area in the 1970s.

The tree would change color from red to a deep, dark maroon and back as the seasons changed.

“We love this image because it carries so much vision for our farm,” Wes Flach said. “We want to be like a weather tree in our community — a visible sign that a new season is on the horizon for those who come to our farm to live, work and heal. We also love how this image reflects the way our faith has led us to this calling for farming and ministry.”

He said, “As Christians, we believe that God is bringing God’s kingdom into the world, marked by peace, justice, love, ecological restoration, and the renewal of all things. God has called our community to be a sign of that coming change — a weather tree — in the way we love, seek justice, care for the earth and the poor, and work for justice and peace.”

One way Weathertree Farm and Market seeks to reach out to the community is through its Farm Box subscription. Each week, subscribers pick up a preselected box of produce with different options every week. The box provides both staples like tomatoes and selections like kohlrabi (a relative of cabbage that resembles a turnip) that may be unfamiliar to some members, and the offerings change based on what is in season.

Recipes are included in the Farm Box, and members can join a Facebook group where they can trade recipes and tips and meet people with similar interests.

For Wes Flach, the best part of owning Weathertree is being able to share it with his wife Mindy and three small children, Jacob, Abi and Eden. The kids are well-known to customers, and they help their parents by feeding chickens and pigs and taste-testing crops.

Mindy Flach helps run the store on weekends, bakes granola, presses flowers and makes custom greeting cards to go in the Farm Boxes.

”As with many small businesses, keeping things running smoothly is a balancing act,” Wes Flach said. “Overall, even though starting a small farm business is intense, it is full of joy when done with family and community. It is the kind of life we’re looking for.”

Weathertree Farm and Market has plans to expand operations. The Farm Box program, which currently has 20 members, will double in size; signups will open up in November. In spring the Flachs will plant orchards and berry patches to allow visitors to pick for themselves. They are remodeling the barn to have more storage space, which will mean expanded hours and offerings.

“Our hope is to really be a hub for local food, a one-stop shop for folks who want truly local, regeneratively-grown produce, meat, eggs, dairy and more, as well as the finest local products from artisans of all sorts,” Wes Flach said.

How to go

What: Weathertree Farm and Market

Where: 900 Morman Road in Hanover Twp., Butler County

Hours: 5-7 p.m. Fridays, 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays and Sundays

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