As someone who raises cattle, pigs, chickens and produce, one might think Andrew Crush had been in the farming industry since he was a child. When he pulled up in a large pickup truck with his own children in tow, I could almost envision him as a young boy, eagerly following his father around the farm, completing tasks. That illusion was shattered upon Andrew’s explanation of “accidentally” starting Spring House Farm in 2004.
“My wife’s still trying to figure it out,” he joked, in response to my shocked reaction of accidentally acquiring such a large project.
Growing up in Southern Virginia, Andrew lived in a neighborhood with acres of land to hunt, fish, and play on. A freedom that’s nowadays taken for granted by many tablet and phone-obsessed kids, Andrew wanted to make sure his children would have the same liberties he was given growing up. For Andrew and his family, farm ownership allows for the environment they want: a hard work, equally as hard play, and ultimately active, lifestyle.
“I’d never really thought about farming, I just new that I liked to be outside.” A massive undertaking, Andrew learned everything about farming from references, be they friend or book, and plain old trial and error.
Q: How do you think [raising livestock] has affected your kids?
“I think they realize more that things come and go,” he pauses. “Nothing is forever. I think a lot of people forget about that, especially in the environment that we live in today. They’ve got a hell of a work ethic, though.” With four different farm locations to cover, they’ve got to.
So you’ve got a man who just purchased a house and land, but the land is covered in shrubs and foliage that’s hard to get through. What does he do? Gets goats! Goats are nature’s best source for clearing stubborn, pesky brush. That’s where Andrew started, and before he knew it he had lots of other animals as well. pigs, cattle, and chickens are his specialty, but Andrew also grows produce as well.
Let’s talk product. There are farming techniques that all farmers are aware of and practice, but every farmer still has their own way of doing things. For Andrew, his unique approach of au natural, grass-fed diets only for all of his animals is enough to make Spring House Farm stand out from the rest. He’s not selling to the masses and is the furthest thing from commercial, giving the animals time to mature as nature meant it to be. Cows are 100% grass fed, so you can expect lean, healthy beef. The pigs, once matured, are given room in the forest to scavenge and graze. His chickens have room to roam, unlike many commercial practices that keep thousands cooped in a space meant for maybe 100. The animals may take a little longer to get to a finished state, but Spring House Farm’s product is safely, ethically, and sustainably raised.
Q: How do you get your products out to buyers?
Aside from ordering product online, you can visit Spring House Farm’s physical store location. The variety of items you can buy here range from meat, produce, and other locally sourced foods as well as handmade, crafted items.
16848 Hamilton Station Road
Q: What’s been one of your favorite experiences since you started in this industry?
In probably what is now my favorite story, Andrew described a time when he was first starting out raising his pigs, and was trying to sell some of the product:
“Well, when we first started out and we were kind of trying to get our name out there and I was cold calling and I’d just walk into a restaurant and ask to speak to the chef and that sort of thing. And I went to this one restaurant and I had brought a pork chop from one of our pigs in there and I was talking about the pigs and all that stuff. And I was new at sales. Of course everybody wants to know before it all, before anything, how much it costs. So I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t talk about costs and total later on down the road. And let them try the product. So anyways, I told the guy the price, and he was like ‘there’s no way, there’s no way that we can make that work on our menu.'”
The meat was left for him to try and consider over the course of several days. The chef called back immediately the next day, demanding to know what kind of pork it was because it was the best he’d ever had! How’s that for eating your own words?
A huge thank you to Andrew and his family for having me out to the farm for a memorable experience. I highly recommend you check out Spring House Farm and store, you will not regret it!