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DelVal students get hands-on learning at Tinicum CSA

John Crooke’s soul is rooted in Bucks County soil, and that’s just how he likes it.

Crooke grew up sharing chores with his brothers on his folks’ local dairy farm.

Something of the early mornings and honest hard work seeded his heart. It compelled him into a farming career that began when he co-managed a student farm at Cornell University, continued during his time as a Peace Corps volunteer focusing on agriculture in Paraguay, and ultimately bore full fruit when he co-founded Tinicum CSA – a community-supported agriculture venture that he’s played the lead role in growing for going on six years.

Indeed, to say Crooke’s career is farming is an understatement. Farming, in fact, is his life.

The healthy, pesticide-free vegetables he grows on acreage leased from Schneiderwind Farm & Nursery on River Road (Route 32) in Tinicum, just across from the Frenchtown Bridge, are an extension of who he is.
“I enjoy the edible results of vegetable farming and am excited to share this abundance with the community,” said Crooke, whose operation provides fresh vegetables to local clients, who sign up to purchase their produce directly from the CSA.

Crooke is just as keen to share his considerable agricultural knowledge with aspiring farmers. That’s just what he did on an April afternoon when students in a commercial vegetable production class from Delaware Valley University traveled to Tinicum CSA for insights that would help them realize their own farming aspirations.

As quick clouds sent shadows rolling over the rototilled fields, Crooke clued the class in on everything from formulating crop plans to greensprouting potatoes, from drip irrigation to when to harvest garlic and onions to get them at their best – and much more besides.

Jackie Ricotta, the Del Val professor leading the class trip, said the experience Crooke provides augments students’ learning.

“You can only learn so much in a classroom,” Ricotta said. “At DelVal, we emphasize experiential learning, and that’s just what the students get here. John is an amazing farmer, and with what he shares with us at the CSA, they see the knowledge applied.”

The class was composed of students in the organic farming certificate program, including both undergrads and adult learners, such as military veterans and folks keen for a new career in organic farming.

Student John Winter aims to one day operate an organic farm of three to five acres. He has CSA experience, but was interested in getting more knowledge to bolster what he already he knows. In Crooke, he found an able teacher.

“The idea of greensprouting potatoes is very interesting,” Winter said, referring to the process that breaks the dormancy of seed potatoes prior to planting. “It’s something I’d like to try.”

In 2013, Crooke founded Tinicum CSA with Stefan Streit, a Minnesota native that Crooke met while working on a CSA in New York. Streit left the operation in 2017 to return to Buddhist monastic pursuits, which he was involved in prior to vegetable farming.

Crooke is now the proprietor – and he’s accepting more clients. Those who sign up with Tinicum CSA receive weekly – or, if preferred, every other week – fresh produce that Crooke grows on his Tinicum acreage. The pickup season runs from the end of May to early November. Learn more at, 215-630-2172 or