“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.