Vendor Spotlight: Honey Creek Farm
In 2011, yearning for healthy, local food, Dan Pugh left his job of 15 years to farm.
He and his wife, Laura, bought 50 acres of pasture and rolling hills north of Columbia and called it Honey Creek Farm. Laura, who had been at home with their children for eight years, returned to work at the University of Missouri, so that Dan could work full-time on the farm.
“Our desire to farm was shaped by a belief that our large corporate food system does not produce the best food in terms of health, taste, variety, or environmental concerns,” Dan said. “We believe in a strong, local food system, and in individual family farms.”
Eager to share with their community, the Pughs soon began to sell their produce at the Columbia Farmers Market, he said, “because we believe it is the best market in the area,” citing “the diversity of both farmers and products.”
Dan, who is 51, refers to himself as a beginning farmer. “We are continually learning” about different farming techniques. “Our farming practices have been formed with health in mind, health for our food, soil, animals, environment, and our customers. We use organic farming principles, but are not certified organic. We grow vegetables and fruits, raise sheep and chickens, and we have honeybees.”
The chickens and sheep roam on 30 acres of pasture, where Dan uses rotational grazing methods in order to nurture the health of the sheep, the soil, and the grasses. “Our chickens benefit from being on pasture, too, by getting exercise and insects while fertilizing the ground.”
At market, the Pugh family offers a wide variety of vegetables, as well as melons, baked goods, eggs, and pasture raised chickens. Last year they also sold lamb at their stall.
Dan said he and his family are grateful for the loyalty of the Columbia customers who come to the Columbia Farmers Market, “rain or shine. They come to us because they know how we produce. We love the feedback we get from people when we bring them products they enjoy.” The Pughs’ children, Eric, 13, and Sarah, 10, also help out on the farm and at the market.
Dan serves as the main cook in the family. “I love to cook for family and friends,” he said. “I take a recipe and fly with it.” During the growing season, he always incorporates food from the farm into whatever he makes. “If I make tacos, you can be sure that greens and a lot of seasonings” will be in the mix. No one complains about the food at the Pugh house. In fact, “Both kids have caught the cooking bug,” he said. “My son wants to be a chef.”
Dan offered this recipe for his lamb sliders.
Writing by Marcia Vanderlip.