Driving along the tree-lined road in Harleysville, Pennsylvania whose outskirts contain homes and businesses among the bustling suburbs you come to a curve, a large painted stone announces Quarry Hill Farm. Making a left then maneuvering up the winding, twisted drive you pass a home of architectural beauty resembling a smaller version of a French Chateau en route to what appears as a spankin brand new barn surrounding landscapes so pristine you wonder to yourself could this really be a farm. A brief few minutes later, a striking woman strides up the hill to the barn where I am located and greets me with a casual friendliness, in just one hour this very smart woman shares enough educated information to fill a small book in not as many words, meet Sloane Six.
A woman whose fundamental basis on changing the way we produce and consume our foods lies rooted in a mix of research, history, science, even upholding the traditions of our Fore Fathers preserving for future generations at Quarry Hill Farm where the vision goes beyond organic. Diagnosed with Stage Three Breast Cancer over five years ago, only four months following the purchase of their one hundred acre farm with her husband, Scott Clemens, as part of the Pennsylvania Farmland Preservation program, Sloane Six began evaluating everything that she consumed, the chemicals, processed foods. “I began to ask the question, what has fundamentally gone so wrong in our food system? Why do we need to be protected from our food, and how do we explain so much disease, including cancers, autism, obesity? I believe there is a growing awareness out there that some of our traditional food supply chain and resources are failing us.” Six said.
Part of the aimed solution envisioning beyond organic at Quarry Hill Farms is in raising the most nutritionally dense food possible and with that naturally producing the pure and good natural flavor, the intended way food should taste.”We provide a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems, and people.” Six said. “It relies on ecological processes biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. It benefits the environment and provides a healthier, good quality of life.”
On one side of the equation Quarry Hill Farm utilizes poly dynamics utilizing together both produce and protein, basically what this means is utilizing the historical farm practice of raising both vegetables, produce and animals, including eggs, together on one farm rather than segregating these natural food products. This age-old practice creates a balance from avoiding overuse of soils through growing only one segregated specialty rather then hosting a symbiotic nature between all food products working together within appropriate rotational methods. The initial process at Quarry Hill Farm begins using heirloom and heritage breed seeds for the produce grown introducing them back where according to Six they historically produced best, including from an environmental and consequently health standpoint within the food production process. Then, even beyond free range, the animals are pastured, consuming lots of these organic fresh fruits and vegetables into their diet, or as Quarry Farm refers to it, the animals consume an open “Salad Bar.” These processes according to Six are “One of the only ways we can pull nutrients from the ground and have it metabolize in a way that we can ingest it in our bodies.”
A segway within creating the proper balance is also raising healthy, happy animals with ultimate high producing nutritional values, and you might get an idea viewing a few of these photo shots that the animals on this farm are quite happy and content. The grown chickens shown above are generally out and about alongside the other animals raised at Quarry Hill, their temporary contained playground only due to allowing all of the new heirloom clover seeds planted throughout the large area to take growth.
The heirloom blackberry bushes shown below line the fences and beneath grows the heirloom mint. Tasting a mint leaf gave me an immediate sense on the nutrition density that Sloane speaks about on the heirloom varieties as this mint was the strongest flavored I have ever tasted along with being the strongest scented, remarkably unlike the potted plants one purchases at the local garden center for the annual home garden. If you have an interest in purchasing heirloom seeds Sloane Six mentions Fetco as one source.
In the photo above red radishes poke out just beneath the bright green leaves. With an eye for aesthetic the Quarry Hill Farm plants assorted vegetables even as decorative flourish surrounding the barn and land areas.
Cancer free for over five years now, Sloane Six has a new mission in life and that is promoting health through food production. Communicating and sharing the benefits of nutritionally dense food is one that Six lives not only within her own family but throughout the extended community as well as linking up with like minded folks as those through PASA, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. The dual purpose barn above serves as a late Wednesday afternoon and Saturday morning Market to the public and CSA members (Community Supported Agriculture with participants purchasing ahead and regularly receiving from among the bounty.) Market purchases are also available by appointment. Quarry Hill Farm also provides its products to restaurants throughout the area and recently, also to a local hospital where fresh foods can be prepared within two hours of picking. The Barn with its open-air wooden window concept overlooking the fields across the way also serves as a rental venue for parties and weddings.
And speaking of restaurants for those of you who are familiar with the former Mainland Inn in Harleysville, well this too now is part of the Quarry Hill Farm currently under renovation. Under the direction of two former Chefs from Le Bec Fin, Philadelphia, a sectioned area within the building will offer healthy food preparation Cooking Classes. The Dining area under the talented Chefs will feature the healthiest and nutritionally densest food available along with those of similar wine varietels. Catered food for venues hosted at the Barn then also prepared through the Mainland Inn, whose namesake will remain the same.
An undergraduate of Barnard with a Masters from Columbia, this former Consultant launching Technologies, Sloane Six has also viewed firsthand segments within the food industry and those relating to food safety believing now that the application of returning back food practices of past then surpassing them, have benefits that far outweigh the trends that have come to be within the food system today. Six can easily educate on the proven values of Pastured Foods vs. Confinement Raised Commodities in the Nutrition Comparison Ranges including that a Pastured Egg contains a whopping 34% less cholesterol and 10% fewer calories than its supermarket variety and that Pastured meat contains about half of the fat along with a broad variety of the richest sources of cancer preventative benefits and then, healthy alternatives for losing weight while eating plenty of the good foods at the same time.
“I think there is a growing awareness all around, people learning more about the way their food is produced, where it comes from, they are looking for alternatives and additions to traditional healing, consuming healthier foods free from processing” says Six. ” This is not about a fad or a trend; this is about a whole lifestyle change.” For Sloane Six, her family, community and customers, it has all been a part of living life and sharing it with others, all for the better.
Quarry Hill Farm website currently has a short video with Sloane Six and is well worth watching.
- 1 cup Honey
- 1 cup Butter, Softened
- 2 Eggs
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- 2 cups Flour
- 1 cup Quick Cooking Oats
- 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1 1/2 cups Raisins
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together honey and butter until smooth then beat in eggs one at a time, add vanilla. Combine into a bowl, flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stir well to combine. Add flour mixture to honey butter mixture in two parts mixing well between each addition. Stir in the raisins to combine throughout. Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of the cookie batter onto parchment lined, Silpat, or greased baking sheets leaving about an inch between each cookie. Bake for twelve to sixteen minutes until lightly browned.