Cooking Up Sales

Cooking Up Sales

Ask Karen and Mark Langan of Mulberry Creek Herb Farm in Huron, Ohio, and they’ll tell you they have an herb farm first, and it just happens to be all certified organic.

“Growing plants is the priority, and we just happen to do that organically,” says grower Mark Langan. It’s a small but important distinction in a market currently obsessed with the words organic, sustainable and green. He adds the business has thrived for many years and only recently have some customers started to visit the small, family-owned operation because of its organic designation.

For the Langans, the decision was simple as they watched their two sons running around the farm. It had to be safe for them. And though the Langans don’t tout Mulberry Creek (www.mulberycreek.com) as an organic destination, the organic and environmentally friendly way of doing business has attracted a large fan-base–some from as far as two hours away. It has become a destination of sorts, thanks to the annual Herb Festival that attracts people to check out the more than 400 varieties of specialty herbs, heirloom vegetables and more than 300 miniature varieties available.

This summer the herb festival drew more than 1,800 people to celebrate a Tuscan theme with display gardens, cooking demonstrations, herb-related vendors and even musical entertainment. The herbs, all grown on site at the farm, come with descriptions of uses and recipes to entice on-the-fence shoppers into purchasing savory rosemary or delectable basil plants.

In fact, the focus at the festival is mostly on cooking since most customers use them in the kitchen, though they’re also great for everything from soaps and aromatherapy to drying and decorations. “It’s tough if you look in our greenhouse in the spring, in its full glory and it’s all green,” Karen says. “I see the distinguishing features of the herb, but it’s still green. You have to teach people how to use them, and cooking is still the queen use for what we grow.”

The display gardens assist with that, and this year each garden had a specific Tuscan theme, such as Antipasto, Second Course and so on, featuring herbs that would be found in each of those meals.

The festival also features a plant sale, which was initially how the festival started years ago. “It started off as kind of a plant sale and now it’s going into full agri-tourism,” Mark adds.

The retail operation also offers classes outside of the fair, and will customize classes based on customer requests.

A True Niche Market

Mulberry Creek Herb Farm also capitalizes on a specialty product it stumbled upon four years ago. Each year the operation introduced about a dozen varieties in a specialty area, just to pique customer interest. They ranged from English cottage plants to prairie plants and others. But four years ago, they introduced several varieties of miniature plants. The popularity of these tiny forms took off, and it pulled the men who previously waited for their wives in the car back into the greenhouse. Karen describes the miniature enthusiasts as non-traditional buyers–men between the ages of 55 and 70, looking for small ornamental plants for their railroad gardens. Each year since then, the retailer has offered more and more miniature varieties, and now currently has more than 300 available. Next year, Karen says, the main thrust of the miniature plants will be conifers to add trees to the mix.

“The asset of them and the liability is that they grow slow,” she says. “If you find a three-year-old plant it’s going to cost more.”

Progressing To Green

Though the operation has always been organic, Mark says only now with the products recently available does he feel as though the growing can truly be green.

“We are making the transition to 100 percent biodegradable pots,” he says. “We’re just working through our existing inventory of the plastic pots until we can get rid of them. Next year we’re going to add biodegradable pots for all the vegetables.

“We’ve been an organic greenhouse for 14 years now and we’re finally able to go green–and for me that’s really exciting. These products just haven’t been available.”

But now the industry is stepping up, he says, more so than other industries in an effort to be environmentally friendly. He sees more consumers expecting herb and vegetable growing to be organic, though his customer base is still largely price-driven. “We do have probably 10 percent of our customers that buy from us because we are organic, especially with the vegetables. They just won’t buy unless it is organic.”

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Terra Nova Shipping Box

July 20, 2017

Terra Nova Nurseries, Dümmen Orange to Partner on Unrooted Cuttings Production

Terra Nova Nurseries has contracted with Dümmen Orange to produce unrooted cuttings (URCs) from Terra Nova private stock located at Dümmen Orange’s Central America facilities. The URCs will fulfill orders in North America and Europe.

Read More

July 20, 2017

New Perennials, Trial Gardens, and Merchandising Were Highlights of Darwin Perennials Day 2017

Darwin Perennials Day has steadily become one of the must-attend perennial events of the summer. This year, even the weather cooperated.

Read More
2018 Ball Seed Catalog

July 17, 2017

Ball Seed’s 2018 New Varieties Catalog Now Available

The expanded guide includes breakthrough breeding from Ball in annuals, perennials, vegetables, potted plants, and more.

Read More
Latest Stories
Terra Nova Shipping Box

July 20, 2017

Terra Nova Nurseries, Dümmen Orange to Partner on Unroo…

Terra Nova Nurseries has contracted with Dümmen Orange to produce unrooted cuttings (URCs) from Terra Nova private stock located at Dümmen Orange’s Central America facilities. The URCs will fulfill orders in North America and Europe.

Read More

July 20, 2017

New Perennials, Trial Gardens, and Merchandising Were H…

Darwin Perennials Day has steadily become one of the must-attend perennial events of the summer. This year, even the weather cooperated.

Read More
2018 Ball Seed Catalog

July 17, 2017

Ball Seed’s 2018 New Varieties Catalog Now Available

The expanded guide includes breakthrough breeding from Ball in annuals, perennials, vegetables, potted plants, and more.

Read More
Pleasant View Open House

July 16, 2017

Pleasant View Gardens, D.S. Cole Growers Hosting Open H…

The event gives horticulture industry professionals the chance to check out nearly 80 new introductions from Proven Winners, as well as Pleasant View’s new Savor Edibles & Fragrants line.

Read More
All American Selections

July 12, 2017

All-America Selections Celebrates Milestone Anniversary…

Coinciding with its 85th anniversary celebration, AAS is hosting an open house at its new offices, and has also released its annual report.

Read More

July 8, 2017

Plant Patent Law: Protecting the Variety Pipeline

Breeders call for better cooperation in protecting intellectual property while considering how stricter laws and expensive patents could impact the future of innovation.

Read More
Calibrachoa ‘Superbells Holy Moly!’ (Proven Winners)

July 8, 2017

Are Utility Patents Tying Up Innovation With Litigation…

The opportunities for innovation in plant breeding could be greatly advanced by creating an industry-led patent licensing platform.

Read More

July 8, 2017

Fleuroselect and CIOPORA Offer Organizational Leadershi…

Learn why breeders feel these organizations should be emulated in an industry-led initiative to protect plant breeding efforts.

Read More
Thalictrum Nimbus White (Terra Nova Nurseries)

June 30, 2017

Kelly Norris Dishes on New Plants, Going to Seed, and B…

From woody perennials to genetically modified petunias, Kelly Norris gives his take on what turned out to be a busy spring.

Read More
Jim Devereux, Green Fuse Botanicals

June 24, 2017

Green Fuse Botanicals New Vice President is Focused on …

Jim Devereux, who will oversee production, sales, and marketing for Green Fuse, says he hopes to bring genetics to the market that break from traditional production methods for finished growers.

Read More
Ushio Sakazaki feature

June 22, 2017

Japanese Breeder Ushio Sakazaki Wins Medal of Excellenc…

From Supertunias to Superbells, this innovative Japanese breeder has used wild genetics to create game-changing plants that help consumers reconnect with the beauty of nature.

Read More
CallaFornia Red

June 20, 2017

Dümmen Orange Enters Calla Market With Acquisition of G…

Golden State will continue to supply the market through September 2018, at which time Dümmen Orange will assume supply and delivery of much of Golden State’s product line.

Read More
Plantpeddler Variety Day

June 14, 2017

Plantpeddler Hosting Variety Day on Aug. 4 in Cresco, I…

The free event will allow attendees to tour Plantpeddler’s trial gardens, which include more than 1,200 varieties of vegetative annuals displayed in large containers, baskets, window boxes, and beds.

Read More
Jonathan Babikow, Emerald Coast Growers

June 9, 2017

New Head Grower at Emerald Coast Growers is Excited abo…

Jonathan Babikow, Emerald Coast Growers’ new general manager/head grower for its Lancaster, PA, location, talks about his favorite perennials, the advantages of growing in Pennsylvania, and his future hopes for his career.

Read More
Petunia 'Amore Mio' (Danziger)

June 8, 2017

AmericanHort Update on Genetically Engineered Petunias

AmericanHort is actively assisting affected plant breeders, distributors, growers, and retailers as the genetically modified petunia regulatory response continues. Since the last update, there have been several changes to the list of petunias confirmed or suspected of being genetically engineered and therefore unauthorized to be imported or sold. Also, the list of recognized laboratories for petunia variety confirmation testing has expanded. Most importantly, petunia varieties on the USDA-APHIS Biotechnology Regulatory Services (BRS) list require an APHIS Form 2000 for importation. APHIS also began requiring that any Petunia spp. Shipments, not including regulated GE varieties, must be accompanied by a list of variety names. This resulted in some inspection delays at the USDA-APHIS plant inspection station in Atlanta over the past two weeks. In response, AmericanHort has negotiated a more flexible approach with APHIS, and new guidance has just been posted for importing Petunia plants, cuttings, or seed. The new guidance allows […]

Read More
Bailey Expo

June 8, 2017

Bailey Nurseries Expo to Take Place in Late July in Min…

This year’s expo will focus on bridging the gap with Millennials and non-gardeners through creative marketing, engaging in-store displays, and heightened customer service.

Read More
Scaevola Mix from Suntory

June 6, 2017

How Was Your Spring? Let Us Know by Taking Greenhouse G…

Please take a few minutes to answer Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 Spring Recap Survey. The deadline for completing the survey is June 20.

Read More
Eason Horticultural Resources Hot New Perennials Booklet

June 6, 2017

Eason Horticultural Resources Releases New Perennials B…

“Hot New Perennials for 2018” is a compilation of information shared with Eason from a broad range of perennial young plant producers, breeding companies, and breeder representatives.

Read More