Flannel Roots FarmApr 29, 2023 12:46AM ● By Michelle Dalnoky
Micro Farm Makes Outsized Impact
by Martin Miron
Jill Seagraves, a regenerative gardener with 10 years as a vertical farm manager and Brittany Burch, a certified permaculture designer, are the owners of the Flannel Roots Farm, in Belle Vernon. Seagraves states, “We exist to help our interested community in understanding the food chain from farm and forest to table by providing fresh, hyperlocal produce and products with artistically minded, permaculture-based self-sustainability applications in micro forms, bringing together social sustainability through mind and body.”
Their main crop is a diverse selection culinary mushrooms and pigment-making crops, as well as various herbs, heirloom vegetables, berries, chickens and ducks. “We hope to go further into meat rabbits and aquaculture soon, as we as expanding our mushroom grow operations and pigment-making for our natural watercolors,” she says.
Although the farm is small and does not produce market-size quantities, they do distribute extra freshly picked produce, eggs and products through their micro farmstand in Belle Vernon. The farm partners with the Zero Café & Market (Yelp.com/biz/zero-cafe-and-market-belle-vernon), using the kitchen to produce other products. Seagraves explains, “Our artisan breads are hand-mixed, formed and baked in cast iron Dutch ovens, and the pepperoni rolls were deemed ‘the best ever’ by locals.” Their output can also be purchased at Harmony Aces Dairy from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays starting in this month; and Monongahela Farmers Market, in Chess Park, from 3 to 6 p.m. Fridays starting in June.
The Flannel Farm uses a combination of regenerative natural based agro-ecology with permaculture design and principle applications. Seagraves points out, “While we are small, on a quarter-acre, we are making the steps towards land good land stewardship practices. Our animals are fed all organic and natural diets/supplements, with as much free-range opportunities permitted within our suburban area. We are fortunate our community enjoys the animals as much as we do.
They run a monthly Permaculture & Paints series with hands-on, self-sustaining topics and free space intentional painting, using their handmade, all-natural watercolors. “Guests walk away not only with a canvas painted with locally foraged and farm-raised all natural pigments, but they also walk away with something relative to the topic, such as vermiculture starter kits, hügelkultur-based grow bags, or mushroom kits. We also bring to market a bite-size version of these for adults and kids, as well as pop-up events at various locations,” says Seagraves.
Flannel Farm will give a presentation with the Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club (wpamushroomclub.org) on “Mushrooms in Permaculture” in June, and another on “Mushroom Preservation” in September for their four-day foray in Davis, West Virginia.