Highland cattle
Highland cattle on Two Creeks Farm share a field with sheep and forage on new grass every other day. They also have a buffet of minerals that they choose from to supplement their diet -- THEY choose!

Growing for good: Organic farming in Lakewood, Pa.

| September 11, 2023

Two Creeks Farm is a 100-acre organic regenerative farm in the hills of northeast Pennsylvania where the cattle and the sheep and the hogs and the chickens and the turkeys and the trees and the water and the vegetables and the bees all support each other.

Stories by Delaware Currents usually focus on water: How much is there and is it clean?

But what happens on the land makes its way into the water supply — whether it’s broken stream banks that degrade, allowing more silt into the water; or the various chemicals that “regular” farming uses; or the fire-retardant foam used on military bases that gave us the now-ubiquitous PFAS/PFOS.

Organic farming seeks to minimize the land’s effect on water, as well as aiming to minimize the more or less toxic chemicals that we ingest.

The method used here is based on one developed by Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean livestock farmer and president and co-founder of the Savory Institute. 

He originated what is called holistic management — a systems approach to managing resources. His emphasis was on the beneficial impact that the proper grazing of cattle can have on the environment.

Here, the bees and the vegetables are among the few denizens that aren’t moved to new grazing land almost every day. Though the bees, of course, move themselves — up to a mile away. On a recent tour hosted by the farm, they did look — from a safe distance — busy as, well, bees. The vegetable garden is not far away, as is the pond.

Figuring it all out is the farmer, Brent Habig, who’s been involved in organic farming for decades and who came to Lakewood, Pa., to farm about three years ago.

man in a hat
Brent Habig, the owner of Two Creeks, explains how the trees are planted across the drop of the hill to allow them to help keep the water where it would otherwise run off.

Habig, an official trainer with Savory, was based in New York City since 2000, but worked internationally in large agricultural projects in Africa and Asia. He left Shanghai just before Covid and started farming here.

When asked about the widespread colony collapse — clearly not a problem here — he reasoned that there are only summer camps nearby, so there’s little likelihood of cross-contamination. Everything on the farm is certified organic except the honey, which demands an even higher level of scrutiny for the suspected culprit behind the collapse, the varroa mite.

Bee hive
This is a multi-story bee apartment house. The bottom two sections are where the queens live and where new worker bees are hatched. The top sections are where the honey is. This year has been especially productive. You can see the little black dots of bees on the move.

Right next door to the bees are two expectant hogs: Christmas, is a gilt — a young female that has never had piglets. The other, Snickers, has farrowed, and is called a sow. (These two are called hogs because they are large — over 250 pounds. When they were younger and smaller, they were called pigs.

Two expectant hogs graze in the underbrush. They root around and can knock down small trees and demolish brush to create a different landscape, one that will be more beneficial to larger trees and allow for grazing for cattle and sheep.

Snickers is doing what hogs will do, if left to their own devices: rooting around to find whatever there is to munch on. Christmas, due to sow sooner, is laying low in the shade. Habig explains that hogs have no natural cooling system — no sweating or panting. Lying on the ground in the shade is the best defense against heat.

They are working for the farm, turning a mature forest into a less-mature forest, one that will eventually allow other animals to graze and support a healthy tree population.

In the vegetable garden, we could see a number of different growing avenues: peppers were under partial shade in a plastic greenhouse with its sides open to the sun. There were raised beds and short rows of rotating veggies. Composted manure is spread as a fertilizer.

This is a no-till garden, which preserves the structure of the soil and the various good bugs that help. Farm workers lay about an eight-to-nine-inch layer of compost to start and add some as the year progresses.

Crowd of people
About 20 people came to the Two Creeks Farm tour. Here they are in the vegetable patch, learning how the composted manure from the farm animals enriches the soil.

That compost must be pretty powerful. Have a look at the tomato plants, taller than Habig and the CBD hemp, looking lush.

Two very happy plants. In the foreground, CBD hemp, which is tightly controlled and processed on the farm into various CBD products sold by the farm. In the background are really tall tomato plants.

The CBD hemp plants are strictly controlled, with testing that allows for only a small amount of THC — Tetrahydrocannabinol — which is the psychoactive drug. If a greater than that small percentage is found in a plant, all the plants are burned.

Trees are an important part of this method of regenerative farming. The 100 acres is in a hilly part of Wayne County, and in order to balance the groundwater supply, the line of trees follows the slope of the hillside. That way, the trees help the ground absorb rain water instead of that water just rushing down the hillside. 

“The goal is to move the water as slowly as possible,” Habig said.

Those parallel lines of trees will allow animals to graze in the alley between the trees, and the animals will fertilize the soil.

There are hoses everywhere, since all the animals need water and the movable basis of this style of husbandry demands that there is always water available wherever the animals are. The farm has recently dug a pond to supply water if there’s a drought and to further replenish groundwater.

Water is, of course, important on the farm in case there’s a drought. The pond also helps replenish groundwater.

Another big field houses chickens in all stages of growth. There are 60 broilers in a cage that allows them to run around and dig in the earth — and fight with each other. The cage protects them from predatory owl attacks. That’s not the case with the fully grown chickens (20 different breeds) that an owl wouldn’t even attempt to attack.

About 20 different breeds of chicken share the pasture. The electric fence is movable. These birds are big enough to fend off hunters; younger, smaller birds are kept in wire enclosure with a wire roof.

The chickens, too, like to fight and no one interferes with that. They live inside an electric fence and have automated nest boxes. The nest box structure and the electric fence gets moved regularly to allow the chickens to dig in the soil.

Two Creeks has about 600 poultry: the broilers, the laying chickens and younger chickens in a nearby enclosure that will replace the laying hens when they no longer produce eggs. The chickens produce about 20 dozen eggs a day. Some of the breeds here produce colored eggs with tinges of blue or green.

The other poultry on the farm are turkeys. But these are separated from the chickens to prevent the spread of disease. They, too, have a movable enclosure. Habig said that these are not really wild turkeys, though they are a far cry from domesticated ones.

“They have access to natural forage, sunlight and fresh air,” he said.

All the turkeys are killed and sold in October.


It’s not just the farm animals who can spend time here. There’s a tiny house on the farm, which can house two people. The couple who stayed there the previous night were on the tour, and Habig said you can find it on Airbnb. The couple didn’t look the worse for wear.

Tiny house
Yes, this is a tiny house that sleeps two. The couple who stayed here could attest to that as they were on the tour as well.

The last stop on the tour is the field where the Highland cattle and the sheep are grazing.

Cattle and sheep graze peacefully together. They have eaten their favorites from this field and will, in a couple of minutes, be run to a new field.

Though there are dogs on the farm, they know enough to keep clear of the cattle, which would not welcome them. The cattle, raised for beef, protect the sheep and both are for breeding.

Habig explained that they keep available a buffet of minerals for the cattle to have whatever they need. He knows, for example that the ground is selenium deficient.

“They eat an enormous amount of selenium,” he said. There’s no testing, just trusting that the animals know what they need. 

Farm workers prepare the livestock for the move to a nearby section, and, perhaps knowing that good forage is ahead, there’s a considerable hustle in the livestock to get there. And much happy munching once they’ve arrived. 

Each field will have four or five turns being the area where the livestock are settled for a day or so. 

While on line, one of the guests, Ann Jones, stopped me to tell me how much transitioning to organic food has meant to her and her family, especially to her middle son, Tristan, who is now six and autistic.

A success story for an organic, holistic diet. Ann Jones is the mother of Troy.

They changed their diets in 2020, but before that Tristan was exhibiting symptoms of autism: emotional outbursts, no type of verbal communication, no eye contact.

“He was lost in his own world,” Jones said. “I was giving him eggs and toast and chocolate milk for breakfast. All his symptoms were a reaction to the food he was eating.” 

Within 48 hours, his symptoms were diminishing. “The cleaner we got, the more the symptoms went away. Eye contact returned and he was even singing,” she said.

Money raised from farm tour tickets goes to the Farm Arts Collective a combination theater group and organic farm in Damascus, Pa., run by Tannis Kowalchuk,

Woman in dungarees
Tannis Kowalchuk welcomes the tour. She is an organic farmer on Willow Wisp Organic Farm in Damascus, N.Y., and the founding artistic director of Farm Arts Collective, which sponsored the tour.

If you’d like to buy some Two Creeks products, they are at farmers’ markets in Narrowsburg, N.Y.; Hackettstown, N.J.; and Honesdale, Pa.; and other locations listed on its website: https://www.twocreek.net/

Meg McGuire

Meg McGuire

Meg McGuire has been a journalist for 30 years in New York and Connecticut. She started in weekly newspapers and moved to full-time work in dailies 25 years ago. She knows about the tectonic changes in journalism firsthand, having been part of what was euphemistically called a "reduction in force" six years ago. Now she's working to find new ways to "do" the news as an independent online publisher of news about the Delaware River, its watershed and its people.

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