Walnut Ridge where farming is not a job, it's a lifestyle!
Walnut Ridge Farm
Written by: Lisa Blubaugh & Clare B.
There are some days that Jeanette Rinehart, owner of Walnut Ridge Farm in Flintstone, Md., and Allegany Farmers Market Manager is so busy she doesn’t eat until the sun has gone down. Other days she covers just about every inch of her 65-acre farm and literally falls into bed, exhausted at the end of the day. Her work is hard, and it’s endless. And she’s never been happier! Until last year, Jeanette farmed only part time, as she was a teacher in Allegany County. Retirement is certainly working for her, and her farm, as well as those who purchase produce off of her, are reaping the benefits.
Located in a beautiful valley just 10 minutes from Cumberland, Jeanette raises produce and a long list of animals that changes sometimes by the week. Jeanette has been farming her own livestock and produce for more than 30 years, but she’s been a farmer her entire life, having grown up on Warrior Mountain in Oldtown raising produce and sheep and learning everything she knows about farming from her father, Homer. Before leaving home in her 20s, Jeannette and her father farmed the land together.
That family tradition remains strong, with her sons Mark, who lives at the bottom of her driveway, and Keith, who lives in the other corner of the farm and who quit his full-time job to follow his mother’s lead and pour his heart and soul into farming, working diligently together to make the farm a success. Her daughter-in-law makes homemade jams and jellies and breads, and her sister and mother make assorted baked goods for the Walnut Ridge Farm tables at various farmers markets. And although her daughter doesn’t live on the farm, she can be found more often than not stopping by the farm where she grew up and where she still fits so seamlessly.
I visited Walnut Ridge in early May and was greeted by a sign that stated welcome to the funny farm, and at times it truly is. From sheep and cattle to peacocks and alpaca, you name it, and it’s probably been at Walnut Ridge Farm at some point. However, the Rinehart’s personal mantra is stated on a sign that hangs from Jeanette’s log cabin: “Farming is not a job, it is a lifestyle.”
Jeanette welcomed me to her farm and gave me a tour of her property. We started in the greenhouses, which were overflowing with many colorful flowers waiting to be taken to the market, and later be placed in someone's garden. Next was the barn, where the cuteness of baby goats was overbearing. She was raising the goats, which she bottle fed every day twice a day. The breathtaking pasture filled with green grass is where the sheep and goats roam freely. Pens of rabbits, a chicken house, and row after row of vegetables waiting to be picked round out the farm. But it doesn’t end there.
Jeanette still farms the land on Warrior Mountain where she grew up, with more greenhouses and fields of produce, as well as the orchard, which was her father’s pride and job. The orchard produces apples, peaches, and cherries, which often end up in the pies baked by her mother.
The hours are unforgiving, but the work holds more rewards than Jeanette ever thought possible. With her third grandchild on the way this fall, she couldn’t be more excited and thankful that she gets to spend every day, all day, truly doing something she loves.
In addition to to finding Walnut Ridge at The Allegany Farmers Markets you can find Walnut Ridge set up:
YMCA,Cumberland on Monday from 8 a.m.- 10 p.m.
HRDC, Cumberland on Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Pharmacare, Cumberland every other Friday from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Care First, Cumberland every other Friday from 8 a.m. - 10 p.m.