With the winter show season in full gear, it’s worth reviewing the advantages of attending trade shows as well provide tips to get the most out of your experience, whether as an exhibitor or attendee. [Read more…]
Farm-based food operations bring extra visitors and encourage those guests to stay at the farm longer. “The longer they stay, they more money they spend,” said Eric Nusbaum, Ph.D. of Wheelwright Consultants in Greenfield, MA.
by Sally Colby
In 1996, Bernie Szarek and his family started growing greenhouse plants. Each year, they put their earnings toward a new greenhouse.
“We’re up to eight greenhouses now,” said Bernie’s wife Denise. “In the beginning, Bernie grew nursery stock, bedding plants and hanging baskets and sold wholesale to nurseries in the area. As those nurseries started to buy more product from Canada, it became harder for us to wholesale.” [Read more…]
by Bill and Mary Weaver
On Oct. 25 this year, at Linvilla Orchards near Media in southeastern, PA, workers were busily picking large red, ripe strawberries. A 26 degree frost had killed nearby tomato plants the night before, but the Seascape day-neutral strawberries, protected overnight by a floating row cover supported by hoops, were in fine shape.
Three years ago, Norm Schultz, Linvilla’s farm manager, obtained a two year, $20,000 Specialty Crop Grant administered by the PDA to work on solutions to production problems peculiar to day neutral strawberries.
Schultz took his responsibilities for the grant seriously, and his work was of sufficient quality that his grant was renewed for 2013-2014 for another $20,000, provided his employer, Linvilla Orchards, devoted a matching $20,000 of their own toward the project, which they did. [Read more…]
by Sanne Kure-Jensen
“How tough can it be to grow Christmas trees?” Eric Watne said. He has learned a lot during the past eight years as co-owner of Clark Farm in Tiverton, RI. He has also become president of the Rhode Island Christmas Tree Growers Association.
Taking over a neglected Christmas tree farm was a challenge for novice growers, Eric and Cat Watne. The founder of the Clarks Christmas Tree Farm had retired and moved away in the late 1990s. The next owner neglected some trees completely. Other trees had been shaved to maintain their overall size. Tree trunk diameter continued to grow thicker every year. Eric said his staff could cut the thickest trunks by hand, but then their arm would be useless for up to an hour. The Watnes eventually resorted to using chain saws — just until all the old, thick-trunked trees were sold. Now, handsaws do not disturb the peace and quiet of a winter day in the country. [Read more…]
by Sally Colby
On bright, fall weekends through late November, Crumland Farms will host thousands of guests. Some visitors are youngsters and anxious to select the perfect pumpkin from the farm’s pumpkin patch, while others are prepared to be frightened in one of several haunted features.
Crumland Farms was originally a dairy farm in Frederick, MD. When the cows were sold in 2000, the family decided to use the farm to create a fall activity venue. “At the same time my parents sold the herd, I was laid off and came back to the farm temporarily,” said Chris Crum, who manages the farm today. “The following year we started with a corn maze and a pumpkin patch.” [Read more…]
by Sally Colby
Tom Childs was looking for an alternative method to heat his greenhouses, and the answer came in the form of a new building, a new tractor and a very large boiler equipped with electronic controls.
“I’ve always been interested in energy,” said Childs, of Twin Springs Fruit Farm in Orrtanna, PA. “Mike Palko, the biomass energy specialist for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, told me that the project would take at least two years. In reality, it took about three years.” But after several years of planning, visits to other operations with wood chip boiler systems and many meetings with various specialists, Childs’ vision came to fruition.
The project was possible with the help of grants from the USDA Conservation and Innovation Grant (CIG) and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. Childs talked about the complex process of working through the various permits during the planning phase. “We had to put in a firewall because of the stored fuel,” he said. “It’s all one foundation, all under one roof; but part of the building is agricultural and the other section is commercial. There are very rigid definitions of an ag building because it’s taxed differently.” Because the large section of the building is used to store an agricultural product, it’s considered an ag building. However, even though the boiler is being used to heat greenhouses, it’s considered commercial. [Read more…]
by Steve Wagner
At the 2013 edition of the Penn State Extension Flower Trial Field Day much of the setting was typical for the event, but there were also a few changes. The most notable change was inspired by an alteration to the road by which everyone accesses the extension grounds. The township had straightened the road during the past year, removing much greenery which, in turn, has allowed more of a potential carbon footprint for flowers that were closely approximated to that area. The plants formerly occupying that space in the lower acre, this year joined rows of flowers in the upper acreage.
The point man this year was Steve Bogash whose title for this event was Interim Trial Gardens Educator. Trial Evaluators were on hand again this year to explain to growers and greenhousers what they were seeing and what some of the pluses and minuses were for specific plants. Geraniums, for example, traditionally ne’er-do-wells on these grounds, this year proved to be a surprise for their hardiness, the best ever seen here according to a few veterans, and likely due to more than average rainfall. When I had a few minutes with Bogash, I asked him if these trials are a two-way street. In other words, do the seed companies and the university listen to wholesalers and retailers or is it a case of these entities saying ‘here’s what we’re offering; hope you like them’? [Read more…]
by Melody Reynolds
Growing strong, the Wojnar family farm has been taking root on an abandoned piece of land in Saunderstown, RI. The farm, once over run with weeds and trees is now plowed, planted and buzzing with activity. Two brothers, Josh and Adam, and their father Mike are the backbone of this family business.
The Wojnar family hopes to turn this old farm into a family fun spot. Hay rides, pumpkin picking and an animal petting area are all planned for the future, according to Josh.
It all began two years ago when Josh lost his job as a diesel mechanic. He and his family were sitting around to brainstorm what to do. Having a father who went to an agricultural college, the family decided to give farming a try. Josh says, “Now I cannot imagine doing anything else.”
The family started their original farm in Foster, RI and moved to Saunderstown one year ago. Josh and Adam talk about what a great family they have and how everyone helps and shares their excitement for the farm. [Read more…]
by Sally Colby
Not long after thousands of reenactors and visitors came to Gettysburg, PA for the 150th anniversary of what many consider the turning point of the Civil War, another group of visitors came to the region for an entirely different reason.
The International Fruit Tree Association (IFTA) held its annual Study Tour in Gettyburg and surrounding Adams County. The tour theme, ‘Heritage and Innovation’ was a perfect descriptor for the orchards in the state’s ‘fruit belt’ that have continued to operate through several generations while constantly seeking innovative ways to manage orchards, personnel and families. [Read more…]