Tait Farm: An Eclectic Farmers Market Alternative
I’d like to start this article off by saying that I might be the State College’s Farmers Market’s No. 1 fan. Every Friday during the fall, I make sure that my very limited budget allows for a trip to Locust Lane. There, I know that a haven of apple cider and Amish baked goods awaits me.
So you can imagine the depth of my annual depression when the vendors pack up their stands due to the unbearable climate around this time of the year. If you can’t, it honestly looks something like this. And while I acknowledge the fact that some of the Market’s vendors will be back after Thanksgiving break, the experience will still seem lacking to me.
Though nothing will be able to fill the hole in my heart that the Farmers Market has left for these long winter months, there is an equally charming locale about seven miles away from campus. I’m talking about Tait Farms, the eclectic family farm and store off of Route 322.
“The farm has been around for centuries,” said owner Kim Tait. “But it became a family farm in 1950.” That was the year that Marian and Elton Tait bought the land as a hobby farm. The Taits, who were both Penn State graduates, wanted a place to raise their kids and a few animals. Tait Farms fit the bill.
The farm was commercialized around 1980. Since then, it’s grown quite a bit. In addition to growing organic produce, the farm expanded to include a small store, lovingly coined the Harvest Shop.
Here, patrons of Tait Farm Foods can find a smorgasbord of local products. Tait Farm Foods produces more than 50 of its own specialty items. It makes about a dozen different spreads (including my personal favorite, apple butter), and various vinaigrettes and condiments.
Tait Farms also bottles its own fruit shrubs. Yes, you read that correctly. “Fruit shrubs are an old colonial drink mix,” Tait said. “They can be used for both non-alcoholic drinks and cocktails, and are really becoming trendy.”
Aside from its impressive wares, Tait Farms also grows its own Christmas trees. I know what you’re thinking: you can cut your own tree down. And you can fulfill your secret dream of being a lumberjack soon. “People usually start getting trees the day after Thanksgiving,” Tait said. That’s eight days away, people.
With such longevity comes a good deal of agricultural knowledge. “Home gardeners come to us with all kinds of questions,” Tait said. “We’re the old guard of family farms in the area.”
So although my beloved Farmers Market is dying down, the quaint Tait Farms is only a quick drive away. And hey, where else can I get apple butter, chop down my own Christmas tree, and get some gardening tips?