On summer evenings, the sun casts a bold orange glow as it sets through the foliage of the persimmon tree just outside Adam and Sarah Mancino’s farmhouse. Nearby, five hoop houses shelter a crazy quilt of dark green, deep reddish purple, and chartreuse salad greens. The Mancinos, who met as painting majors at the University of Michigan, see the land through an artistic lens. “There’s an aesthetic quality that’s present in everything we try to do,” Adam says, “from the arrangement of plants in the field to the way we bring them to market.” The Mancinos moved to Adam’s family farm in Bethel just after their now-16-year-old son, Abraham, was born. It was christened Farm Beach Bethel by a friend who appreciated the laid back vibe of both the land and its caretakers. They began by growing vegetables to feed their young family. Encouraged by friends, the Mancinos eventually took their produce—they’re known for delicate lettuces, robust cooking greens, spicy endives, and radicchios—to the first season of the Hyde Park Farmers’ Market in 2004. Two years ago, the couple finally committed to farming full-time. With just an acre under cultivation, the Mancinos work exclusively with hand tools, using hoop houses to raise greens and root vegetables in the colder months and sustainable practices to grow heirloom tomatoes and sweet peppers in the summer. “We asked ourselves, how can we do this year-round and supply ourselves with a liveable income while nourishing other people with the food that we’re growing in an honest way,” explains Sarah, an instrumental force in establishing Hyde Park’s winter market. “Farming is a doorway into the natural world,” Adam adds. “It answers all the questions for us: spiritual, economic, political, and aesthetic.”
Farm Beach Bethel, 1938 State Route 133, Bethel, (513) 734-6928 firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published in the June 2014 issue.