GO-MR-3-Smuckers-SIDEBAR_21by Jon M. Casey
As gardening enthusiasts in the Strasburg, PA area begin their spring planting and garden preparations, many look to Good Harvest Farms, owned by Chris and Cindy Powell, for their flower and vegetable plants to get them off to a good start. Good Harvest Farms, a 30-acre Lancaster County farm that has been in business for more than 25 years, is many things to many people. Not only does the Powell family operate a 50,000 square foot greenhouse system that includes an indoor, covered retail and wholesale nursery business, they grow fruits and vegetables for retail sale at farm markets in Lancaster and Wayne, PA customers as well. They also operate a year-round CSA that supplies approximately 75 customers with regular produce deliveries for weekly consumption at their dinner tables.
“We have a lot going on,” says Chris Powell as we tour his operation. “We are gearing up for the spring planting season.”
Heading outside to explore the nearby greenhouses, our first stop is in Greenhouse 5, a facility outfitted with roll-out benches, a feature that Powell says offers added value to his customer’s spring plants. “By being able to temper the plants to the outdoor weather, our customers can benefit from hardier plants,” he says. “If we get a forecast of frost, we just roll the benches in for the night and put them out when the temperatures improve.”
Moving on to Greenhouse 6, we had the opportunity to see Powell’s hydroponic growing area, where regular crops of at least four varieties of lettuce and other herbs and vegetables were flourishing nicely. “We started hydroponic growing about 15 years ago because we never had enough lettuce for our CSA and retail customers,” he says. “We traveled to California to see how they did it and came back home and built our own system out of ‘this and that!’ The sides lift up for even temperatures and airflow and we close them when it gets cold and heat the entire house.”
“We harvest approximately 3,000 head per month,” he says. “We raise four varieties right now, red leaf, green leaf, Dutch and Salad Bowl. Now, every day, there’s lettuce!”
Good Harvest Farm not only has the greenhouse facilities, and a high tunnel for early tomato and strawberry production, but once winter has passed, outdoor planting on the tillable land begins. Outdoor crops include the usual table variety crops including asparagus, sweet corn, beans, spinach, onions, radishes and pumpkins. “We are busy all the way up to Thanksgiving,” he said.
In the retail store area, Powell is especially pleased with his display area that features dozens of varieties of potted plants arranged on display benches of his own original design. “About five years ago, we were looking to replace some older display benches, and we took a sample of what we were wanting to Dave Smucker of Smucker’s Woodcrafts, LLC to see if he could help us build a more sturdy, longer lasting display bench,” he says. “Dave was known in the area for his decorative yard bridges, so we knew he might have some helpful ideas on how to help us. What you see here is what we came up with. They are heavier in construction and actually are very reasonably priced. We use them here and at the farm market locations in Lancaster and Wayne.”
“Our business is a family business,” Powell said. “My father Albert, who is 81 years old, still helps out around the farm. My wife Cindy, does the bookkeeping and is involved in our training classes and other events that take place. Our three children, Luke, 14 and twins Madeline and Abigail, 13, help as well. We have a staff of 15 to 20 full and part-time people that help with the farm, the retail and the CSA activities throughout the year.”
For more information on Good Harvest Farms, visit their website at www.goodharvestfarms.com .