Follow along each month in Attraction magazine as Sprout takes readers on tours of Mid-Shore farms. They will share stories from the road as they gather fresh produce from area farms. Sprout provides individually portioned, ready-to-eat meals using fresh, local and organic ingredients, delivered directly to a customer and to businesses.
The horseshoes affixed to the newest building on the farm were rooted up from the earth by free-range pigs at Pop’s Old Place. It’s unclear if “Pink,” “Dew” or “Max” gave the horseshoes new life, but Darlene Goehringer was thrilled. It’s very likely the shoes were left in the pastures by one of her relatives’ horses.
That is one of the many stories that links Darlene to her family’s Century Farm in Hurlock. The horseshoes are now proudly displayed on the farm store building. Darlene and her husband Arthur Wilson raise heritage livestock and poultry on the same farm her great grandparents, Gustav and Cristiana Goehringer, purchased in 1909. For Darlene, she doesn’t know life without Pop’s Old Place. “It’s cool to touch the same soil that they did,” she admits.
When Darlene and Arthur took over the farm in 1998, they considered renaming it. But the farm had only been known as Pop’s Old Place and it seemed appropriate to leave the name in tact.
Darlene and Arthur have a different approach to farming in that they raise heritage breeds, not hybridized. Darlene wanted animals that were actively farmed in the early 1900s when her ancestors were farming. Many of the breeds they raise are endangered, including Randall Cattle and Mulefoot Pigs. The duo started out small and added as they went. Horses were first, and then there was the sheep dog. A sheep dog needs sheep, and so forth. Pop’s Old Place is a purpose driven farm.
“Everything here has a purpose,” said Darlene. “I get great personal satisfaction from a job well done.”
Darlene and Arthur should feel a great sense of satisfaction. Their animals are raised with respect and as naturally as possible. The pigs and chickens are fed a non-GMO diet. The Katahdin lambs and Randall cows are grass fed. Antibiotics are provided only when absolutely necessary.
Each breed is chosen for the meat’s flavor and texture. Having been raised on a farm, Darlene was unsatisfied with store bought meat as an adult. For her, raising the animals was for palatability, she said. Darlene and Arthur began harvesting animals for themselves and eventually started selling the meat and eggs for others through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and the on site farm store.
But what they learned to realize is that what they were raising isn’t what the public expects. “The flavor and health benefits of grass fed animals is known, but it’s not always the same texture as store bought meat,” Darlene admits. Through research and trial and error, they are striving for palatability that is appealing to the general public.
It’s an ongoing learning process for Darlene and she is quick to share her knowledge with others. “I really encourage people to visit their local farmer,” she said. “People don’t know that they should know.” Therefore, the farm’s slogan is “Know Your Farmer, Know Their Farm.”
According to Ryan and Emily Groll, of Sprout, “You won’t find a more trusting, humble and caring farmer with the respect she has for animals. Pop’s product is by far superior and we highly recommend trying them out.”
Ryan adds, “Pop’s Place was one of the first farmers that we met when we began in early 2016. Darlene was extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and always willing to help educate Sprout on how to purchase meat. She was a great advocate on understanding proper animal husbandry and taught us what to look for when we visit other farmers, and how to source product.”
In addition to the CSA, Pop’s has a store open weekends from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and by appointment. Call 410-924-1646 in advance and visit www.popsoldplace.com for more information.