Story by Ariela Rose
Tucked between routes 1 and 13, Morrisville’s 25-acre Snipes Farm & Education Center is rich in history. The land has been in the Snipes family since 1848, when it got its horticultural start as a nursery; trees grown here were uprooted and taken by horse-drawn cart to Chestnut Hill, the Main Line and Fairmount Park. There was also the 5,000-square-foot Snipes Garden Center, which supplied area residents with growing essentials for 50 years before big-box stores forced Susan Snipes-Wells and her brother Jonathan Snipes to close the center in 2004. From there the siblings, who took over ownership duties from their father, decided to transform the farm from a horticulture center and small “U-Pick” orchard to a more agriculturally focused education center and CSA, allowing them to teach local residents the importance of sustainable growing methods.
In order to fulfill their educational goals, the Snipes offered use of the farm’s land for the establishment of a nonprofit education center. The center offers farm tours and summer camps that give local school children a chance to connect with a pre-suburban way of life. Students make recipes using freshly grown produce, pluck apples straight from the farm’s orchard, and engage in planting and harvesting work.
“Children are not out in the soil anymore,” laments Snipes-Wells. “They just don’t get their hands in the dirt and there’s something spiritual for human beings about having your hands in the soil. We need this stuff.”
Fall harvest weekends, complete with hayrides, romps through a 6-acre Corn Maze and pumpkin picking are also offered to eager visitors. And for those looking to gain significant growing skills, the farm offers work study and volunteer opportunities.
Perhaps one of Snipes-Wells’ most fulfilling additions to her family’s farm is the rapidly expanding CSA program, started in 2007. Her commitment to growing without the use of pesticides, herbicides or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is shared with a passion that keeps members coming back for more. The program more than doubled from 15 to 40 members in its second year, and offers full and half produce shares, plus “U-Pick” blackberries, apples and seasonal vegetables.
“We know we’re in an ideal location for this because civilization is everywhere around us,” says Snipes-Wells. “It’s really easy to get to us. It’s this bizarre little oasis right off the highway.”
For more, visit snipesfarm.org