Farmers on the Rise, Richard & Jennifer Hartleib
Farm Credit awarded a total of $100,000 to beginning farmers through the Farmers on the Rise Award Program on December 7, 2023. Richard & Jennifer Hartleib of Berks County, PA are one of ten recipients.
Richard and Jennifer founded Castenea Farms, LLC in 2018. They designed the operation within an agroforestry concept, integrating multiple crops on the same acreage. Their primary crop, chestnuts, is grown throughout their property. They rotationally graze hair sheep and cow calf belted Galloway pairs in pastures shared with the trees. The trees are grown to produce nuts in the future, get fertilized by the livestock, and the livestock benefit from the dappled shade provided by the trees. The Hartleibs grow fresh figs and early spring greens in a high tunnel and offer pick-your-own strawberries. They utilize a riparian area to grow woody florals (winterberry holly, curly willows, pussy willows). The plants not only provide a water quality benefit, they offer an early season pollen source for honeybees.
They recently acquired additional acreage for nut production and are planning to break ground on a storage barn to protect equipment, hay (made on site), and produce bins containing fresh product waiting for transport to market. Having this storage will significantly reduce unnecessary crop degradation and contribute to the longevity of their equipment.