MARKETING SUCCESSES: Chris Petersheim, Paradise Organics
Direct Marketing and Diversification Go Hand and Hand

"Once you get in the door and you’ve got great quality, customers are going to be there for you week after week.”
–Chris Petersheim, Pennsylvania Farmer


Farm At A Glance

Chris Petersheim
Paradise Organics
Paradise, Pennsylvania

Summary of Operation
Farming for 20+ years
Produce (Organic): 4 ½ acres, certified since 1987-- cucumbers, beans, leeks, winter squash, kale, collard greens, lettuce, basil and other herbs, tomatoes, potatoes, onions and peppers
Third Party (Organic): Subcontracts other organic produce and crops farmers to supply clients during winter and as part of overall organic marketing strategy.


“We started farming in 1980, and we’ve been farming organically since then. In the beginning, we only had about one third of our farm on organic. We weren’t certified yet, so we started a roadside stand, to sell our product, to get a feel for what people might buy, and to determine how much we could get off of that amount of space.

"Once we were certified, we were able to sell our produce to a much larger audience. We now sell everything to natural food stores, restaurants and cooperatives in Lancaster, Philadelphia and Reading areas. We sell direct. We do everything by phone. We have a price sheet that goes out twice a week to clients. The demand has increased a lot over the years. Ten years ago, we would deliver 12 cases of produce every two weeks to a given store. Today, we deliver 30 cases twice a week to the same store. Fifteen years ago, we started with 5 stores, and kind of grew from there. We have over 20 stores now. Nothing has changed except the demand.

"In my point of view, there are plenty of outlets to market produce. The main thing is to have enough variety to make it worth taking into the city. If you have good assortment, wide variety, it will get people’s attention. But if you have just 3 to 6 varieties, it doesn’t work.

"Because we only have a small amount of acreage, we try to make the best production off of what we have. If we had to rely just on our own farm’s production, it would be a struggle. But we contract with other farmers. For example, I grow just a little bit of potatoes that we dig early to be able to have something to offer early. Then, we have a farmer who grows a few acres of potatoes to cover the rest. We sell corn, but don’t grow any of it here. We get this from other farms. I offer a very wide variety of produce. Some of it we grow in part, subcontracting the rest through other farms. Some of it we don’t grow at all.

"Quality is an issue for direct marketing. A consistent fresh product and quality is absolutely necessary to have a successful market. To make sure my produce looks and tastes good, I use a combination of techniques. For example, I rotate crops to keep weeds down. And I use sticky insect tapes in the rows, to keep insect populations down.