Kathryn Hanks and Chris Pohl met during their undergraduate studies at Virginia Tech, and after graduation and spending a year in the Northern Virginia workforce, it became clear to the couple they both desired a life closer to the land. In 2013, they moved to Kathryn’s family’s land in Louisa County and began building their own farm from the ground up. Not only is this couple new to farming, but it is also the first time the land has been put into agricultural use, which can be challenging, especially for new farmers. Lucky for Kathryn and Chris, first-time farmers on first-time agricultural land has proven successful thus far.
After establishing a following at the Mineral Farmers Market for their colorful, tender salad mix, they decided to devote their time and energy to growing fresh greens year-round. Their well-maintained operation demonstrates sustainable growing practices and the importance of farm design and time-saving infrastructure, which results in the production of high quality produce. While visiting their farm, it is abundantly clear that these are two beginning farmers with great potential for long-term success.
Since partnering with Local Food Hub in the fall of 2014, Local Food Hub has been able to provide them with a consistent market outlet, on-farm training, and product marketing so that they can continue to finance their growing farm and achieve their goal of sustaining themselves as full-time farmers. Local Food Hub’s collaboration with Virginia’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition also provides our growers with access to a network of new farmers and additional training tailored to first-time growers.
They grow fresh greens year-round in high tunnels, or unheated greenhouses, and have provided us with high-quality, tender salad mix when the late winter and early spring temperatures prevent much else from growing. The couple is a great help to our production planning, and they are always willing to try new products. In the spring of 2015, they grew baby kale for us, in addition to a few other of our partner producers. Local Food Hub had never carried baby kale, but Kathryn and Chris have a lot of experience growing and selling it and thus served as our guides to this new product. We piloted the product with a few of our retail customers, which soon became a hit among their customers. We look forward to seeing its return to our warehouse next spring!
In 2015, Phantom Hill Farm received Local Food Hub’s Rookie of the Year award, and also received our Innovation in Agriculture cash award. Read more about these awards here.
Phantom Hill Farm is a Local Food Hub partner farm. We are proud to partner with Local Food Hub to connect small family farmers in Virginia to 4P FOODS customers.
Profile and photo courtesy of Local Food Hub.