A visit to Pleasant Lane Farms, Unity Township
This family farm was owned by Arnold Palmer until about 3 years ago, but for 41 years the Frye family has farmed its beautiful acreage of rolling hills.
Ralph Frye, USMC, and his son Army National Guard SFC Todd Frye, work the dairy farm along with Todd's brothers and family members. In recent years they've diversified into pork, beef, and honey production. Father and son raise livestock and crops with respect for their land and heritage, a work ethic that stood them well in military life, love of family, and more than their share of good humor.
Pleasant Lane is a preserved farm, so its future as ag land is ensured, thanks to the foresight of the Fryes. They've worked with their local conservation district to ensure that the natural resources of the farm--soil and water--are protected, and plant cover crops to maintain the precious topsoil that sits atop southwestern PA's rocky soils.
Like many dairy farmers, but atypical of many PA Veteran farmers, Todd
grew up on the farm and returned to it following three years serving in Texas with the Air Force. Today, he's on active duty with the PA National Guard, working with the OCS program by day, and helping on the farm after hours. As such, Todd has not had to overcome the hurdles that a Veteran starting out in agriculture often does, but dairy farming isn't an easy life no matter what your background.
He acknowledges that dairy farming is not an easy life and the many challenges to the milk business should give entering farmers pause. Market fluctuations, increasing regulation, and the public's infatuation with non-dairy milk alternatives could keep any dairy farmer up at night. But diversification and an enterprenurial spirit have allowed Pleasant Lane to survive when other small- to mid-size dairy farms have not. They provide milk to industry leader Turner Dairy, and sell their honey, beef,and pork products from the farm rather to keep costs down.
If you're a member of the military community or Veteran considering getting into dairy, small scale meat production, or honey, plan a visit to Pleasant Lane Farm during the November 4th Trail, or contact the Fryes via their website to visit another time.