Churchview Farms, a sustainable family farmette located just 20 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh, is a secluded, natural escape from the bustle of the city.
And, while the farm is now well-known for its exclusive farm dinners, and for providing produce for some of Pittsburgh’s top restaurants, the farm has a history as rich as its soil.
In the 1930s, Emil and Hilda Rockacy purchased Churchview farms, turning 13 acres of land into an all-natural produce and dairy farm. Tara Rockacy, the granddaughter of Emil and Hilda, and current “Queen Bee” of the the farm, purchased the land in 2007.
What started as a hobby to grow food, and revive her family’s farm quickly turned into a full-time job. Churchview Farms is now an integral part of the Pittsburgh food community, offering Pittsburgh workshares, community outreach, produce, eggs, educational opportunities, internships, and an example of the way sustainable agriculture can enrich a community.
And all of this is in addition to Churchview’s legendary farm dinner series, which is now going into its fifth year.
“The idea was that Churchview is so close to the city, and we wanted to make it accessible to more people,” says Tara Rockacy. “We do workshare and volunteers, but we wanted to fill a gap between that and the rest of the city. The dinners have changed over the years in that we have improved and become more efficient, and the concept has stayed the same. We want visitors to interact with the chefs, be able to come to a farm and experience all the wonderful food next to where it is produced.”
The Churchview Farm Dinners encourage guests to make the connection between the food on their plate, and the food growing around them. Over the years, acclaimed Pittsburgh chefs like Trevett Hooper of Legume, and Justin Severino of Cure and Morcilla, have prepared meals on the farm. The 2017 lineup has some big names on the schedule like Chef Bethany Zozula of the Whitfiled, and Chef Derek Stevens of the Union Standard.
These dinners have become such a phenomena that the Farm Dinner Series often sells out months prior to the start of summer, like they did this year. To be able to bring more people to the farm, Rockacy launched the “Happy Hour Series,” where she brings local breweries to the farm for a happy hour event. These informal events highlight farm food, local beer and cocktails, and (new this year) live music. Tickets to the Happy Hour series are $45 per person, and include beer from two local breweries, two Wigle cocktails, ice cream from Millie’s Homemade, and snacks from local chefs.
This year, after the success of the 2016 farm dinner with Pittsburgh restaurant Gaucho Parilla Argentina, Churchview Farms decided to launch an entire Gaucho series, once a month from June through September.
“We have the new Gaucho series launching this year,” Rockacy says. “Anthony and Matt came to the farm for their farm dinner and we all had so much fun. Everyone loved it, and it was a wonderful experience. They go over the top, and bring their own equipment like giant grills. Like most of the farm dinners, it allows for a level of interaction that can’t happen in a normal restaurant environment.”
These BBQ-style Gaucho events will each feature a menu centered around locally-sourced meats grilled over fire, salads and side dishes from the farm, and beer from local breweries. Tickets to each Gaucho event are $75 each.
Rockacy says that each farm series gives guests the opportunity to explore the farm in a hands-on way.
“One of my favorite parts is interacting with guests, and watching people become excited. Playing with the cute goats, and interacting with the animals. It is really lovely because I spend all of my time here. When we have these events and people are so happy to be in the space it allows me to see it differently, and appreciate it even more,” she says.
Tickets for both the 2017 Happy Hour series, and the new Gaucho “Asado @ Churchview Farm,” series are now on sale.
The lineup for both events are as follows:
Happy Hour Series
Wednesday June 14, 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday July 12, 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday August 9, 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday September 13, 6:00 p.m.
Gaucho: “Asado @ Churchview Farm”
Friday, June 2: Tickets
Friday, July 21: Tickets
Friday, August 18: Tickets
Friday, September 29: Tickets
Churchview Farm (3897 Churchview Avenue Extension)