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...
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Arizona Apricot'

February 25, 2015

National Garden Bureau Designates 2015 As Year Of The Gaillardia

Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower, is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and a long-blooming pollinator plant. It is fitting that the National Garden Bureau has specified 2015 as The Year of the Gaillardia.

Read More
IPPS Sharing Plant Production Knowledge Globally Logo

February 25, 2015

International Plant Propagators Western Region Sets Annual Meeting Date

The annual meet for the International Plant Propagators' Society (IPPS) Western Region has been set for this September. It will take place September 23 to 26 in Modesto, Calif., and will include learning sessions, tours to local nurseries, a research poster display and poster presentations, various networking opportunities and an awards banquet to close the event.

Read More
Evolvulus Blue My Mind

February 24, 2015

Blue Ribbon Bloomers For Greenhouse Production

Grow what consumers want! Surveys show that blue is one of the top preferred colors of today’s consumers. Here are twelve top recommended blue-flowering Proven Winners annuals and perennials to suit your spring production cycle.

Read More
Latest Stories
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Arizona Apricot'

February 25, 2015

National Garden Bureau Designates 2015 As Year Of The G…

Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower, is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and a long-blooming pollinator plant. It is fitting that the National Garden Bureau has specified 2015 as The Year of the Gaillardia.

Read More

February 18, 2015

California Spring Trials Sneak Peek: New Annuals For 20…

If you're like us and you can't wait until the 2015 California Spring Trials to see some of the new genetics that will be hitting the market in 2016, never fear. We contacted the breeders who will be displaying their new varieties in California in April, and they gave us a sneak peek. Check out our slideshow to see some of the new annuals making their debut to the trade this spring.

Read More
Athena Brazil Salvia 'Brazilian Purple'

February 18, 2015

ForemostCo And Athena Brazil Unite To Supply Unrooted P…

ForemostCo, Inc. and Athena Brazil have forged a working relationship to support each other in the unrooted perennial cuttings market for North America. The partnership, geared toward accommodating increasing demand for unrooted perennial cuttings in North America, adds diversity to a recently consolidated market.

Read More

February 17, 2015

Poinsettias Had Their Best Year In Many In 2014

Poinsettia growers report a strong year in 2014, thanks to a few conditions. Growers were encouraged by high plant quality, enthusiastic shoppers and a stronger, less saturated market for poinsettias throughout the selling season. Seasonal cold at just the right time put consumers in a festive mood to buy early and often, and with no big snowstorms to hold up shipments and a reduction of supply available in the market, the season was strong from start to finish.

Read More
Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Biokovo'

February 17, 2015

Geranium Hybrid ‘Biokovo’ Dubbed 2015 Peren…

Geranium xcantabrigiense ‘Biokovo,' a naturally occurring hybrid of G. dalmaticum and G. macrorrhizum, is the Perennial Plant Association's top pick for 2015 Perennial of the Year. Learn why this tough, landscape geranium took home the prize.

Read More
Costa Farms' Season Premier 2015

February 4, 2015

Costa Farms’ 2015 Season Premier Reveals Newest V…

The annual Season Premier at Costa Farms in Miami, Fla., is the industry's very first peek at new varieties for debut the following year, even before the California Spring Trials, heralded widely as the jumping off point for new varieties. This year's event revealed breeders' best and brightest new varieties for 2016, shown in field trials, landscape trials and containers at Costa Farms tropical trial gardens. Plant breeders presented their new varieties to buyers and members of Lowe’s grower panel. Growers, brokers and other allied industry members, including Home Depot growers and buyers, were also able to peruse the grounds to see how the new varieties fared in the winter trials. Later this season, the hot and humid conditions at Costa’s summer trials will help identify the true performers.

Read More

January 28, 2015

All-America Selections Introduces Additional 2015 Winne…

All-America Selections has announced more 2015 AAS Winners, bringing the grand total of introductions for the 2015 gardening year to 25. The seven winners join the 12 announced last November and six announced last July. This year, AAS has had the most winners in one year since 1939.

Read More

January 28, 2015

Holiday Plant Trends And New Varieties

Growers had mixed feelings about the 2014 poinsettia season according to Greenhouse Grower's 2014 Poinsettia Survey. Read about their plans for 2015 and stay up to date on 14 of the newest cyclamen and poinsettia varieties on the market.

Read More

January 21, 2015

Pantone Marsala Plants To Grow In 2015 [Slideshow]

Marsala, an earthy wine-red color, is the Pantone Color of the Year for 2015, and it presents a great marketing opportunity to showcase Marsala-colored plants for outdoor and indoor decorating. Enjoy this round-up of plants with Marsala hues.

Read More

January 14, 2015

Liven Up Indoor And Outdoor Living With 24 New Tropical…

Uniquely colored foliage and vivid blooms are just two of the great features new tropicals and foliage plants add to energize indoor and outdoor spaces.

Read More

January 13, 2015

Take Purdue University’s Survey On Vegetatively P…

Do you have problems callusing or rooting vegetatively propagated perennials? The Purdue University Floriculture Lab would like to help you with these problems, but first the research team there needs your help.

Read More
Poinsettia 'Charon Red'

January 6, 2015

Dan Schantz Farm 2014 Poinsettia Trial Recap And 2015 D…

The 2014 Dan Schantz Poinsettia trials featured more than 170 poinsettia varieties. Here's a summary of the event, as well as a 2015 date for your calendar.

Read More

December 31, 2014

Engage Busy Consumers With Modern-Day Tropical And Foli…

Contemporary tropical and foliage plants fit right in with the hustle and bustle of the twenty-first century. Their versatility lends itself to countless uses both inside the house and out on the patio.

Read More

December 30, 2014

2015 California Spring Trials Are Just Around The Corn…

Are the California Spring Trials on your schedule for 2015? Before the busy growing season sidelines your plans, use this handy resource to get a jumpstart on registering for your trip.

Read More

December 29, 2014

Top 5 Slideshows Of 2014

These popular slideshows from 2014 highlight everything from new perennials, to new veggies, to California Spring Trials.

Read More

December 29, 2014

Suntory Makes Spirits Bright With Princettia Displays

Suntory Flowers started to introduce its varieties to sister company Beam Suntory by collaborating on a holiday interiorscape featuring Princettia at Beam Suntory's offices in Deerfield, Ill., near Chicago.

Read More

December 17, 2014

Small-Size Plant Varieties For Small-Scale Gardens [Sli…

Miniature and dwarf-sized varieties are perfect for containers, small-scale outdoor gardens and miniature gardening. See what breeders and growers have to offer in new varieties and past favorites.

Read More

December 17, 2014

Plant Ratings From 2014 Trials Now Available In Plant T…

Now that North American trial grounds have completed their 2014 trialing season, the National Plant Trials Database has more than 15,000 plant ratings for the horticulture industry’s use in planning for 2015.

Read More