Note: This article is the first in a series about the regular vendors at the Wabash County Farmers Market. The farmers market is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the TenPins bowling alley parking lot located at 930 W. Ninth St. in Mount Carmel. For more information, visit wabashcountyfarmersmarket.com.
WABASH COUNTY — What began as a way to provide more fresh food for their family has blossomed into a fast-growing business for one local couple.
Brittany and Eric Campagna and their young family moved to rural Wabash County from the bustling town of Mount Carmel in 2014.
“We lived in town, and then we wanted to move out to the country to do kind of homesteading type stuff and just supply our own food and know where our food came from,” Eric said.
The couple set an ambitious goal of wanting to grow 50 percent of what they normally would purchase at a grocery store themselves and planned a large garden. It wasn’t until Haleigh Buchanan approached them about joining the Wabash County Farmers Market that they really started to ramp up production for sales.
“Haleigh took over the farmers market last year and contacted vendors directly that she knew were growing different things,” Brittany said. “She knew we were doing coffee at the time and knew we wanted to do more.”
Eric has been roasting coffee beans for himself for the past ten years, so it naturally became one of their first signature items for Casa di Campagna. He purchases the beans online from vendors in other countries and for a variety of beans like Peruvian — all while making sure they are fair-trade and grown organically.
The couple then began to focus heavily on growing greens and other organic vegetables — learning to plant and harvest produce through a lot of reading, Googling, trial and error. Eric said two books, “The Market Gardener” by Jean-Martin Fortier and “The Urban Farmer” by Curtis Stone, have really helped him learn how to grow for more people than just his family.
“We began growing greens mostly because they can start really early in the season so we knew that it was going to be something that we could put on our table fairly quickly while the rest of the garden was coming up,” Brittany said. “Then we found that there were a lot of people looking for really good quality greens and not just iceberg lettuce.”
Area businesses including Big John’s Lunchbox, Hogg Heaven BBQ and R’z Cafe seem to agree with that sentiment, and have all begun purchasing greens for their salads from the couple’s business, Casa di Campagna.
“We’ve heard from a lot of people that it’s hard to find a good salad in Mount Carmel. I know the Red Café has a pretty decent one — but it’s hard to find a salad that has a diversity of lettuce and greens in it. So we’re really excited to be able to provide that to some of those restaurants so hopefully people can find better salad options,” Eric said.
The name, Casa di Campagna, actually means “House of Country” in Italian, Eric said.
The couples are also co-founders of Brushfire Creative, a successful marketing firm, so finding time to cultivate their garden isn’t the easiest task.
“We make it a priority, really. There’s not a lot of down time necessarily in our house — there’s not a lot of TV watching or sitting around,” Brittany laughed.
It has, however, allowed Brittany and Eric to enjoy time with their three children, Carter, Cohen and Ila, who “get into” the gardening process.
“It’s been nice to spend time together as a family, but then we are also working the garden,” Brittany said.
Future plans for Casa di Campagna may vary as new ideas come along, but one thing has remained at the business’s core values:
“We want to keep a lot of our business in Wabash County because that’s our passion — getting better produce to our community. We would just like to grow this market and grow it to a point that it’s really commonplace to maybe get half of your produce at the farmers market,” Brittany said.
Eric said they have also explored offering some protein options in the future, including chicken, rabbit and lamb.
“When we select the crops that we are going to be doing, we want to think about what others aren’t going to be doing because for one, we don’t want to compete directly with other growers, but we want to give a variety of flavors and options for people that come to the market,” Brittany said.
In addition to the farmers market, Casa di Campagna also operates a stand from 1 to 6 p.m. at their farm. For more information and updates on Casa di Campagna’s produce, coffee and other items, visit their Facebook page or website, casadicampagna.farm.