Heyser Farms is a living legend in Montgomery County

An interview with Mike Heyser of Heyser Farms

Mike Heyser, owner of Heyser Farms is a living legend.  It’s incredible to learn that this family farm is just off busy New Hampshire Road and just a few blocks from the White Oak shopping center. His farm is the one and only largest farm left in Colesville and minutes from the Beltway!

Heyser Farm is here since the late 1940s.  My husband and I went to the open house during Maryland Farms Tour weekend and we met him while he was feeding the chickens some seeds.

Deep roots in farming since the 1940s

During a break from the chicken coop, I rounded him up for some questions about his farm. He explained to us the story.  Back in the 40s, he told us his neighbors were all farmers; across the street was a fruit farm and down the road a dairy farm. He came from generations of family farmers; his grandfather was a farmer.

He said he definitely sees farm practices going back to the roots of his grandfather’s generation, where there is a commitment to care and quality in every piece of produce. However, we’re also seeing a decline in farming. This is the last farm to operate in Colesville, MD. It’s the largest and last farm out here.

Starting the business

His advice was to join a local Community Support Agriculture. Customers basically become “subscribers” and they sign up to receive weekly boxes of produce from you and other farmers in the CSA. Members have “shares” in the crops.

Members can also receive a “mix and match box,” basically allowing them to pick which of the several farmers they’ll take produce from. According to the Local Harvest’s CSA website: “…members load their own boxes with some degree of personal choice. The farmer lays out baskets of the week’s vegetables. Some farmers encourage members to take a prescribed amount of what’s available, leaving behind just what their families do not care for.”

One of the CSAs closest to Greenbelt is Gorman Farm in Laurel, MD. I will check them out!

He said the hardest part of maintaining the business is dealing with the government. He wants to shoot deers that invade his plants but the County refuses him to shoot late at night.  He also struggles with hiring workers since the minimum wage increased to $11.50.  He also can’t afford running the internship programs for students because of the operating costs, too.

Mike’s farm has a lot to offer in just 5 acres.  He has apple trees, concord grapes, and peach trees. His farm has cider machinery and a kitchen to bake fresh pies and cookies.  The chocolate chips are divine! I recommend stopping in here to buy the cookies.

A mini donut factory!

One of the sweetest things about his farm is the donuts. I haven’t tasted the donuts but I went “behind the scenes” to see how they’re made.  A worker stands over a grease machine where the dough slides down a funnel and creates a hole, then slides through the grease basket where it’s boiled on both sides for just a few seconds. The machine has a cage flap that moves the donuts out to the landing tray. Then, the worker gently rolls the donuts in sugar and cinnamon.

The worker manages 15 donuts each tray and sells 6 donuts at $3.75 each. The donut mix is 50 pounds for $55.00.  And it’s this machine only which is used to making the donuts.  From the tour we learned that donuts actually attract the highest revenue of the farm, alongside their fruit sales too.

Future changes?

Mike’s never been the one to change.  He said that he hasn’t liked the changes he’s seen since 50 years so why change now.  His operation has been going strong the way things have been done!



Author: Kimberly Kweder

33 years old, career woman, Pittsburgh native, and loves projects that involve communications, social media, and international development.

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