Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Unforgettable Farm

Crowing roosters, nibbling goats and buzzing honeybees: Fritz and Jim Mitnick's farm in suburban Indiana Township is truly peaceful-but far from quiet.



Photos by Laura Petrilla

It's hard to know where to begin in describing the Mitnick farm. For starters, there's Mike and Harry, the pair of plant-nibbling goats that Fritz Mitnick calls "self-propelled weed eaters."  Then there's the two white, spotted chickens who scurry about and the scarlet-plumed roosters who chase them.

Perhaps the most striking detail is the colony of honeybees that Jim Mitnick carefully tends and the ruckus that invariably happens at the local post office when the queen bees arrive that Jim has ordered by mail.

On the property sits a towering red barn, first constructed elsewhere in 1891 and brought here by the Mitnicks in 2001. There's also a smaller white barn that the chickens and roosters shared for years with a family of doves until marauding hawks did away with their peace-loving prey. The circle of life is very evident on this "hobby farm" in Indiana Township.

The stunning home that anchors this 34-acre property was designed by Jim, an engineer, and built in 1991.

The low-slung front of the house has a disarming simplicity, like a cottage nestled in the woods. Fritz, with her easy laugh and no-nonsense charm, is perfectly at home here designing stunning rugs, cooking with garden herbs and making jelly from her strawberry patch.

But wander around back past the frog-filled lily pond, and everything changes. There you get an entirely different perspective on the house. The low-slung cottage has blossomed into two stories of imposing grandeur, calling to mind the beachfront estates of Long Island's Hamptons. It's simultaneously a chic suburban residence and a working farm-home not just to a menagerie of animals and insects, but also to sprawling gardens brimming with vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers all summer long.

Seeing this property today, so full of life and sound and quirky personality, it's hard to believe it was just grass and trees when the Mitnicks bought it two decades ago. As the years have passed, they've put their stamp on this landscape, literally and figuratively.

Fritz's creative nature is everywhere, especially in the pieces of rusting farm equipment that sprout unexpectedly amid trees and bushes. She has turned these huge relics, used a generation ago by her father on his farm just outside of Chicago, into an outdoor art installation.

Jim's engineering prowess can be glimpsed in fruit trees he so carefully prunes, in the honeycombs he coaxes into being and in the vines of berries that he expertly tends. ("Trees are almost architectural," Fritz says, smiling.)

This place is truly their home, and it feeds them creatively just as its bounty feeds them literally. It is difficult to describe, but even more difficult to forget.

Crowing roosters, nibbling goats and buzzing honeybees: Fritz and Jim Mitnick's farm in suburban Indiana Township is truly peaceful (but far from quiet).

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Wrapped in History: Your Chance to See Real Mummies

The largest collection of real mummies is coming to Pittsburgh this fall.

Troy Polamalu and his Hair Get Last Word in New Commercial

The former Steelers safety goes to head-to-head with Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs. The ending is classic.

Behind the Scenes with Pittsburgh Chefs

Watch some of the city's most prolific chefs and restaurateurs in action.

Big Changes Are Coming to Fish Nor Fowl

We have details on the launch of the restaurant's second chapter, plus updates on other Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group projects.

This Class Teaches You How to Lose Your Yinzer Accent

A community course at Allegheny County Community College is ready to teach you how and why to leave your Pittsburgh accent at home.

Love on the Farm: The Beauty of a Barn Wedding

Even in the city, the barn wedding trend is on the rise.

After Controversy, Luxury Condos Underway in Sewickley

After being delayed two years by court challenges, 400/420 Centennial broke ground in August.

PM on KD: The Fall Weddings Issue

PM Weddings editor Lauren Davidson appeared on KDKA's Pittsburgh Today Live to share our fall weddings issue, including our exclusive photos from Ryan Shazier and Michelle Rodriguez's wedding.

New Smallman Galley Cocktail Menu Pays Homage to The Royal Tenenbaums

The Strip District food hall's late-summer drinks menu riffs on the Wes Anderson cult classic.

What's Your Favorite Happy Hour?

After Dark wants to know about your preferred spot for after-work drinks and deals.

The 400-Word Review: Good Boys

This raunchy comedy isn't just funny — it's surprisingly sweet.

#Shalieve in Love: An Exclusive Look at the Shaziers' Wedding

Ryan Shazier and wife Michelle Rodriguez never lost faith that they’d get their dream day. A year and a half after the Steelers linebacker suffered a severe spinal injury, he danced at his wedding.

11 Real Pittsburgh Weddings

Chosen from more than 70 submissions, these 11 couples celebrated with lots of personal touches at local venues. We share all of the details that got them to “I Do.”

Coach Mike Tomlin Confronts Sorrow from the Heart

The Steelers’ head coach dug deep while leading his team through its grief over the loss of beloved assistant coach Darryl Drake. The words were hard to find but Tomlin found them while revealing a side of himself the fans and media don’t always see.

Recommended Pittsburgh Eating: 4 Recent Dishes I Loved

PM Dining Critic Hal B. Klein says fried chicken, sour cherry soup, longevity noodles and garden-fresh Italian cooking have his attention this month.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Wrapped in History: Your Chance to See Real Mummies

Wrapped in History: Your Chance to See Real Mummies

The largest collection of real mummies is coming to Pittsburgh this fall.

Comments

Troy Polamalu and his Hair Get Last Word in New Commercial

Troy Polamalu and his Hair Get Last Word in New Commercial

The former Steelers safety goes to head-to-head with Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs. The ending is classic.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Big Changes Are Coming to Fish Nor Fowl

Big Changes Are Coming to Fish Nor Fowl

We have details on the launch of the restaurant's second chapter, plus updates on other Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group projects.

Comments

New Smallman Galley Cocktail Menu Pays Homage to The Royal Tenenbaums

New Smallman Galley Cocktail Menu Pays Homage to The Royal Tenenbaums

The Strip District food hall's late-summer drinks menu riffs on the Wes Anderson cult classic.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
5 Best Spots to Hang Out with Your Dog

5 Best Spots to Hang Out with Your Dog

For those who can’t stand the idea of leaving their dogs home alone on a beautiful day, these dog-friendly stores, restaurants and bars in the Pittsburgh area welcome humans and canines alike.

Comments

5 Races You (Yes, You) Can Run This Year

5 Races You (Yes, You) Can Run This Year

Even novice runners can work their way up to these fun and (mildly) challenging races.

Comments


What's Your Favorite Happy Hour?

What's Your Favorite Happy Hour?

After Dark wants to know about your preferred spot for after-work drinks and deals.

Comments

Five Essential August Events in Pittsburgh

Five Essential August Events in Pittsburgh

Seasoned sketch, skacore sounds and more August happenings.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Coach Mike Tomlin Confronts Sorrow from the Heart

Coach Mike Tomlin Confronts Sorrow from the Heart

The Steelers’ head coach dug deep while leading his team through its grief over the loss of beloved assistant coach Darryl Drake. The words were hard to find but Tomlin found them while revealing a side of himself the fans and media don’t always see.

Comments

Steelers Rookie Getting His Ducks in a Row

Steelers Rookie Getting His Ducks in a Row

Off-the-radar, out-of-nowhere quarterback candidate Devlin Hodges is making a name for himself at Saint Vincent College. Can the NFL really be his true calling?

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: Good Boys

The 400-Word Review: Good Boys

This raunchy comedy isn't just funny — it's surprisingly sweet.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Dora and the Lost City of Gold

The 400-Word Review: Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Dora's in high school now, but her first feature is still for younger viewers only.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Love on the Farm: The Beauty of a Barn Wedding

Love on the Farm: The Beauty of a Barn Wedding

Even in the city, the barn wedding trend is on the rise.

Comments

Cookie Table Contest Winners and Runners Up: A Taste of Pittsburgh

Cookie Table Contest Winners and Runners Up: A Taste of Pittsburgh

Cookie tables are wonderful things in and of themselves, but more and more couples choose to go above and beyond.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
After Controversy, Luxury Condos Underway in Sewickley

After Controversy, Luxury Condos Underway in Sewickley

After being delayed two years by court challenges, 400/420 Centennial broke ground in August.

Comments

Get a Sneak Peek at Homes About to Hit the Market

Get a Sneak Peek at Homes About to Hit the Market

Launched by North Hills resident Wendy Gilch, Selling Later is a new online community that allows future home sellers and prospective home buyers to connect — before the house is listed.

Comments