“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