2023 - Celebrating 229 years of Farming
For 229 years (1794 to 2023) Our story has been one of continual change to meet the needs of our local community.
For Four Generations, the farm was owned by the Shelly Family. Historically speaking, the farm was considered a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch Farm (German) with a farm house circa 1794 (built from stone cleared from the fields), large barn, dairy cows, pigs, chickens, orchards, field corn, hay fields, small fruits, vegetables and a flower patch.
Everything was grown on the farm to sustain the family. Life was hard and families were large. Great Grammy Shelly would tell us stories of how on “baking day, ”, she made a pie and a loaf of bread for each meal of the day for the whole week (21 pies and 21 loaves).
In 1928, Arthur Detweiler Shelly married Caroline Sames Hellerick at the Plumsteadville Inn, then known as “Hellerick’s Hotel”. Her parents, George Hellerick Sr. And Flora Keller Sames Hellerick, owned and operated the Inn for 42 years from 1912 to 1954.
Arthur and Caroline, or “Carrie” as she was known, moved to the farm with Arthur’s parents, Mary and Frank Shelly, in 1933. While Arthur worked the farm, Carrie, to make additional money, began baking pies, cakes and cookies and selling them to the community. Along with the farm crops, they grew a wide assortment of vegetables. The ’truck patch” as it was known was about two acres. To preserve all the vegetables, the family began making a Pennsylvania Dutch Sweet & Sour treat called, “Chow-Chow”. To do this, first all the furniture was moved out of the kitchen and living room and then the 3-foot wide by 2-foot deep wooden tubs were thoroughly cleaned and set on the floor. We remember as young children, being told to add three jars of pickled sweet corn to each tub and there were 25 tubs! Chow-Chow contains sweet corn, five types of beans, sliced carrots, cucumbers, peppers, celery and other types of vegetables. The tub was mixed, and the mixture scooped into glass jars. Then a most delicious combination of cider vinegar, sugar and spices was poured into each jar. The jar was capped and placed in a hot water bath to seal the lids. Served cold, Chow-Chow is a one-of-a-kind taste treat sensation. At the peak, the family along with the help from many friends and neighbors canned 12,000 quart jars each year! The family still has the original recipe (Maybe someone would be interested producing our family's secret recipe again?)
In 1939, a new road, Route 611 cut the most productive fields and the farm literally in half! These were very dark days in the eyes of the family and this dramatic change took a heavy financial toll to keep the farm solvent. Almost 70 years later, this change is looked at a bit differently by the family. Route 611 now provides us with direct access to one of the major roads in Bucks County and great visibility for 30,000 potential customers each day! Haring Road has turned into the By-pass around Dublin with around 8,000 cars each day. But it has taken almost 70 years for this recovery!
In 1958, Tragedy struck when the large stone dairy barn burned. All that remains today is the silo.
In the 70’s, we would come to the farm and "help" with chores. It was during these times, our grandparents allowed us to set up a card table on the front porch with "extra eggs and vegetables" from the truck patch. We placed a hand lettered sign along Route 611 and folks passing by would drive in and make a sale. Our grandparents taught us about customer service and the importance of always saying please and thank you to each customer. We had fun waiting on the customers and even better we were given a healthy share of the sales! This simple sign, providing a quality product, good customer service and word of mouth were our only advertising.
In the 1970’s and 80’s Arthur and Carrie passed away ending a Golden Era, never to be repeated.
In the 1980’s, another major change occurred when our parents, Karl Hellerick, and Doris Jean McKillip’s Hellerick, began farming the land along with family members, neighbors and friends. They specialized by growing only U-Pick strawberries, sweet corn, pumpkins and flowers. The local community went crazy for a farm where you could come and pick-your-own crops. The farm currently grows strawberries, sugar snap peas, red, black and golden raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, currants, pick your own zinnias, a wide variety of pumpkins, squash & gourds, field corn. A part of farming is an eternal optimism and being thankful for what you have. They put these two ideas together and created “Thankful 4 U” pumpkin gourd. Each fall, they would give these Thankful 4 U pumpkin gourds to friends who had helped them during the year with instruction to pass it on to someone who they were thankful 4 and to give the same instructions to continue to pass the pumpkin gourd on to someone else. Each fall, pumpkin gourds are hand painted and available at the farm market for our customers to continue this act of being “Thankful 4 U.”
In 1995 our Dad split the property with his brother (our family got 30 acres of open land and our uncle got the farm house and 11 acres. Also, a new driveway entrance off Route 611 was installed and a new movable Farm Market was installed for Strawberry and Fall Festival Sales.
In 1996, the first Corn Maze was planted and our Agritourism business was started. Today it has grown into 45+ fun family activities on 18 acres.
Our Father passed away after a tragic tractor accident at the farm. We decided to continue the business in honor of the legacy thay he and our Mother created.
2011 Plumstead Township Supervisors agreed to buy the Development Rights from Hellerick’s Family Farm, thus preserving the farm preventing it from being turned into a housing development.
2012 New building pad, electric service, underground storm water management and new Main Barn are constructed.
August 2015, Our Mom passed away. Her farm legacy continues today with the many farm displays she created, continuing to carry a wide assortment of fall decorations, great Guest Service and an acre of U-Pick flowers. Mom and Dad are buried together in Plumsteadville, PA and on their headstone is a pumpkin and bed of strawberries.
Our land has been farmed for 229 years (1794-2023)
Today, if you start at City Hall in Philadelphia, Broad Street (Route 611) and drive North on Route 611 for about an hour…. Hellerick’s Family Farm is the FIRST Farm you can visit. All the other farms have been developed!!!
As the current generation of Hellerick’s Family Farm owners, we are actively working on the farm to continue the tradition of providing quality produce, farm fun and educational experiences. Just like previous generations over the last 229 years, changes will need to be made to meet the needs of the local community and to keep the farm a financially viable business. As the area continues to be developed, we plan to continue to welcome the many new neighbors and provide an opportunity for the community to learn about farming and to have fun. Just like our Dad always said… To Create Life Long Memories for Our Guests.
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