The Lands at Hillside Farms: Fostering Sustainability in NEPA
It’s no secret that the self-sustainable lifestyle in which our ancestors lived by is fading away with modern society. We rarely know where our food comes from or even what ingredients are inside. This non-self-sustainable path inspired a group of people from the Wilkes-Barre area to purchase this early 1800’s farm with the goal of educating the community and exposing the traditional values of our founders that helped create our country. The principal behind The Lands at Hillside Farms is to provide a place that will inspire and educate enough people in society on how to make positive decisions that will allow future generations to inherit a country with the same resources and opportunity in which we have today.
(Photo Credit from thelandsathillsidefarm.org)
The Lands at Hillside Farms is a nonprofit organization, made up of thousands of volunteers that maintain, support, and grow the mission behind the facility. It’s located just outside of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in the picturesque back roads of Shavertown. I first learned about The Lands at Hillside Farms from a Facebook post. One of my friends was asking if it was a good place to take her niece and nephews. Everyone that replied to her post had extremely positive things to say about the property. I did some more research and found their initiative to be inspiring!
We finally had the opportunity to visit Hillside Farms this week and we’re already planning our next visit! My first observation was how easy it is to find. How could this living museum exist so nearby that I wasn’t aware of it until now?
As soon as we arrived I felt like we were traveling back in time. There were lush green fields surrounding us with well kept farm buildings on either side of the road. We drove by some beef cattle on our way to the parking lot and I was amazed at how clean they were. My only disappointment to our visit was that the “farm smell” was almost nonexistent. I’m sure for most people this would have been a good thing but I grew up in a farm community and the sweet smell of the barn takes me back home. Regardless, the property was pristinely clean for a farm.
The Dairy Store
We parked in the parking lot and walked into the Diary Store. Think of a modern day general store with self-sustainable products lining the shelves and you’re there. Hundreds of local products line the shelves and coolers. Here you can purchase items such as cheeses, organic vegetables, raw honey, baked goods, and jams. There are also products made from resources on the farm such as 100% grass fed beef, pasteurized pork, pasteurized eggs, butter, and pasteurized milk in classic glass bottles.
The Ice Cream
Inside of the Dairy Store is Hillside Ice Cream. You can purchase it by the scoop at the ice cream counter or by the gallon from the freezer. This ice cream is beyond amazing! It’s perfectly creamy and deliciously flavored! We tried the strawberry which seriously tasted like we picked the scoop from a strawberry vine. I’ve never tasted strawberry ice cream that was so close to the actual berry as this was!
Hard ice cream flavors here include blueberry, chicken scratch (vanilla with rainbow sprinkles mixed in), chocolate marshmallow, maple walnut, and red raspberry to name a few. They also offer soft ice cream, fat free soft yogurt, sugar-free hard ice cream, water ice, and yogurt, WITH a giant list of toppings I may add! Sundaes, floats, shakes, and ice cream sodas can be purchased here, along with ice cream cakes! Promise me you’ll try the ice cream if you visit! You won’t leave disappointed!
Behind the Dairy Store is the Garden Center. This is the perfect place to grab both annual and perennial plants for your garden. From Gerbera daisy’s to fresh basil, you’ll find it here. Next to the garden area is the Mercantile. This historic farm building turned retail store has great hand-made in the USA gifts that you can purchase as gifts or as a treat for yourself, such as hand-milled soaps, locally made candles, scarves, birdhouses, and jewelry to name a few.
And if you thought this place couldn’t get any better; hold on to your hat for this one. The Lands at Hillside Farms is not only invested in nutrition and sustainability, they also care about the well being of the community. They have created programs like bereavement camps for children experiencing the loss of a loved one, summer camps that educate K-8 grade children about the animal husbandry to conservation, and they’re host to the Green Guides for Vulnerable Youth program as well, which is an educational, therapeutic program for autistic children and other at-risk youths.
The Lands at Hillside Farms is an experience that everyone living in or visiting the Northeastern Pennsylvania Area should see. Whether it’s just to stop and see the cows and grab an ice cream cone, or you spend all day on the farm; there’s something for everyone here and their mission rings loud and clear to anyone that’s concerned about future generations having the same luxuries that we do today. All of the proceeds generated from programs and store purchases are reinvested back into the facility. We need more initiatives like this in our communities that have a vested interest in our youth and our overall health.