Family First: Brooke-Lee Farm
by Rachael Chamberlain
As I stroll through the market each Saturday morning, I see many smiling, happy faces from both vendors and market goers alike. Walking into the Brooke-Lee Farm tent, I am always welcomed with two beautiful smiles from owner Kim Mallatratt and daughter Sydney. Always willing to chat about their products or the goings on of the day, they truly enjoy getting to know the people who eat the food that they produce.
Brooke-Lee is a small, family farm located just outside of Fleetwood, owned by Sam and Kim Mallatratt, and named for the middle names of their two daughters. Sam has been interested in farming his entire life and worked on several Oley Valley area farms as a teenager. While Sam, Kim, and daughters planted and harvested their own garden for many years, they were approached by a family friend interested in buying their extra produce. Word of mouth started and Brooke-Lee Farm was born in 2010. Kim says that there was a definite learning curve, and they continue to learn on a daily basis: for instance, who knew they’d need so much equipment? But they have met many great people who have helped with advice and opportunities.
Currently, they farm about three acres of their own land and rent another forty acres in the surrounding area. While not certified organic, they do follow organic practices and have completed Penn State University’s Good Agricultural Practices class. They firmly believe in pesticide and herbicide free farming and using non-GMO seeds. This brings a lot more weeding but results in a much tastier product!
Sam and Kim grow a large variety of produce with emphasis on squash, greens, peppers and several varieties of potatoes. Kim says potatoes are their favorite crop. They “love to eat them but there is nothing more exciting than digging in the ground to find out how many potatoes there are and how big they grew! It’s like digging up buried treasure!” This season also marks the first year using a high hoop tunnel which is currently being used for peppers, greens, and tomatoes. Besides being a vendor at our market, Brooke-Lee Farm sells produce to restaurants and Boyer’s Junction Market on Pricetown Road. That’s good to know, in case we need a mid-week Brooke-Lee fix!
It is only this year that Sam has been able to focus his time solely on the farm. The previous thirteen years he owned a small engine and agricultural equipment repair business. This vast mechanical experience has been a huge asset to the farm as most of the equipment has needed to be refurbished.
Kim owns KDM Marketing Services, LLC and is a marketing consultant to the architecture and engineering industry. She devotes as much time as possible to the farm and does the canning and delivery to buyers.
Did someone say canning? In addition to all the wonderful produce from Brooke-Lee, Kim makes many jams, marmalades and salsa from their bounty. I’m not talking about plain strawberry jam here, friends. Peach-chipotle jam, praline syrup, blueberry cardamom jam, bruschetta in a jar, and many more flavors and varieties. Be sure to check out the stand each week to see what Kim has cooked up in her kitchen! I’m proud to say – or maybe I should be embarrassed to say – that I have tried several of these tasty concoctions and encourage you to do the same. This week I picked up some strawberry chocolate spread that was calling my name.
Kim and Sydney enjoy the park setting of the market and the great flow of people. They love meeting those who eat the food they produce and talking about the new recipes that their customers have created over the last week. They also enjoy the wide variety of vendors and have made it a point to try something new each week.