Drive down any Indiana state route and you will see signs for farm fresh tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers, onions, eggs and the like. There is a farmers’ markets open somewhere nearly every day of the week. But I only know of one place where you can get pizza fresh from the farm.
The J. L. Hawkins Family Farm (“HFF”), located just outside of N. Manchester, Indiana (about 40 minutes from FW), is 90 acres of gorgeous farm land that is a third generation family run farm. The farm has a small store as well as a share-system allowing people to purchase a share of the farm so that they can collect from the farm’s bounty all year long, depending on what is being produced at the time. The HFF is a farm that offers more than fresh vegetables, grass-fed hogs and beef, Thanksgiving turkeys, and chickens. Every Friday night during the summer the HFF makes its own fresh wood-fired brick oven pizzas using fresh locally grown ingredients.
I was advised of this “long time N. Manchester tradition” by a colleague who is close friends with Jeff and Kathy Hawkins – the farmer and his wife at HFF. Upon hearing of such an offering I promptly devised a plan to check it out. I called up Globetrotter and she was nearly as excited as I was. So, Globetrotter, The Queen and I set out for N. Manchester with high hopes, a cooler, a blanket, and empty stomachs. We were not disappointed.
We arrived at HFF at 5:15. Pizza hours are from 5:00 to 8:00 and I was warned that some times they run out by 6:00. So, we were prompt. The farm is very pretty – an old brick farm house sits in the middle of the road frontage and it is surrounded by super green fields that are fragrant and lively with baby Thanksgiving turkeys escaping from their pin and neighbors from around town setting up their tables, chairs, and blankets. Please keep in mind that the HFF does not offer drinks, silverware, seating, or trash collection. So, come prepared.
Soon upon arrival we realized that dogs were not allowed. But Mr. & Mrs. Hawkins are so nice that they permitted The Queen to stay as long as she was out of sight of their dogs (visual detection resulted in a barking frenzy) and away from their cats (The Queen is not so cat-friendly). We ordered our pizza – one pepperoni and one margherita – cracked open some sparkling water and enjoyed the sunny afternoon. The good Lord has blessed the Midwest with some relief from the extreme humidity and heat and lately it has been very pleasant. And on behalf of everyone in FW, at least, I say thank you.
The crowd grew as the evening wore on and it was eclectic. There was a group of older folks with folding chair gathered in a circle chatting like family; a couple brought their own table with table linens and wine service and seem to be on a date; a group of hipsters with a blanket, some imported beer and Chuck Taylors enjoyed the lawn; and a couple who are friends of the owners drove down from Michigan for their anniversary sat by the hammock and chatted with the farmer’s wife. It was a unique way to share a meal. Also, it was a great snapshot of small town life in the Midwest – quiet, laid back, and friendly. Oh, and don’t forget the good and very farm fresh food – even pizza.
All of the proceeds from the HFF Pizza Fridays and their annual Between Heaven and Earth dinners go to support Hope CSA, a pastoral education program. A good cause, indeed.
Here are some snaps from the farm . . . enjoy!