Meeting The Demand For Edibles: High Meadows Farm

Howard Prussack greenhouse raspberries, High Meadows Farm
Howard Prussack at High Meadows Farm started growing greenhouse raspberries after winning a business competition for developing a non-traditional agricultural business plan.
Photo courtesy of High Meadows Farm

This is one of four articles on how growers are appealing to the growing interest in edibles. Click to read about Altman Plants, Peace Tree Farm and Go Green Agriculture Inc.

Although Howard Prussack, owner of High Meadows Farm in Putney, Vt., has been growing vegetables on his 65-acre farm since 1974, the use of protected structures to finish crops has been a relatively recent addition. His operation was the first certified organic farm in Vermont and is currently USDA GAP-certified (Good Agricultural Practices) and USDA-organic certified.

About 20 percent of his company’s sales come from 7 acres of organic field-grown vegetables. Finished produce is sold to Hannaford Supermarkets, food co-ops, local schools and hospitals.

Prussack says 80 percent of his production is vegetable and herb transplants in trays and 4-inch pots. The plants are sold to garden centers, Gardener’s Supply stores, co-ops, natural food stores and Whole Foods Market stores in five New England states. Prussack is also custom growing for other farmers, which he says is a quickly expanding market.

“We grow certified organic, which has helped us,” Prussack says. “We have had double-digit growth for the last 14 years. The worst year was at the height of the recession in 2008 when we had 9 percent growth.”

Prussack started growing raspberries in greenhouses in 2007 after winning $10,000 in a business competition for developing a non-traditional agricultural business plan.

“I purchased a couple of Harnois greenhouses to grow raspberries,” Prussack says. “Raspberries are a good crop because we don’t have to replant them every year. We just have to renovate the in-ground beds.”

Prussack produces fall raspberries, which when grown outdoors normally have a harvest season that starts in August.

“We start picking ours in July, at least a month earlier than field-grown crops,” Prussack says. “The quality of the greenhouse raspberries is much better, and the shelf life is better. We don’t have mold issues because the fruit is not getting rained on. We usually pick berries until the end of October. The outdoor raspberry crops are usually finished after a killing frost. We usually get a month to six weeks longer harvesting time than the traditional outdoor picking season.”

Adding Finished Tomatoes

High Meadows Farm received a Natural Resources Conservation Service grant which the company used to purchase a high tunnel to grow tomatoes.
Photo courtesy of High Meadows Farm

The year after starting the raspberries, Prussack received a Natural Resources Conservation Service grant, which he used to purchase a 2,800-square-foot high tunnel to grow tomatoes.

“Tomatoes fit in with our marketing,” Prussack says. “We sell them at the farmers’ market in Brattleboro, Vt., which we have been doing since 1974. We also have our own stand here on the farm.

Tomatoes are a high value crop, and they are hard to beat in regards to greenhouse space, in terms of return per square foot, Prussack says. He has also tried some other finished vegetables with varying success. The yields on the tomatoes have increased every year since he started producing them.

“We started using our own grafted tomatoes two years ago,” Prussack says. “This has lead to a nice side business for us.”

The business sells a couple thousand grafted tomatoes to other growers. Those are used primarily by greenhouse growers. It also produces some grafted tomatoes for consumer gardeners with SuperNatural rootstock, which is more of an outdoor garden-type rootstock than greenhouse tomato rootstock, says Prussack.

Prussack plants the greenhouse tomatoes in March and begins to harvest by the end of June.

“We are a little late in harvesting compared to more traditional greenhouse tomato growers,” he says. “Traditional greenhouse tomato growers put more effort into planting them earlier than we do. But we are ahead of field-produced and garden-grown tomatoes by quite a bit. And that is what drives our local markets.”

High Meadows’ goal is to beat the local gardeners. According to Prussack, hardly anyone grows field tomatoes in northern New England anymore because of the weather and disease issues. They are competing against gardeners and other greenhouse tomato growers.

Phasing Out Flowers

While vegetables and herbs make up the bulk of High Meadows’ business, some flowering plants are produced.

The business does 300 to 400 flowering hanging baskets, but it used to do about 2,000 baskets.

“We have been slowly phasing the baskets out of our product mix because they just bring in more problems,” Prussack says.

Because the business is a certified organic farm, it can’t use any of the traditional chemical pesticides.

“We have effective program of biocontrols,” Prussack says. “The addition of flowers does not make it easy. This year we confined the flowers to one greenhouse, and we sold out of them the earliest we ever have before.”

For more information on High Meadows Farm eMail or visit High Meadows Farm’s website or Facebook page.


Leave a Reply

More From Vegetables...
Feature image The 2015 Perennial Plant Of The Year, Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo.’

August 27, 2015

The Perennial Plant Association’s Regional Symposium Will Be This October In Dallas

The Perennial Plant Association plans to hold its Regional Symposium October 5 in Dallas, Texas, in conjunction with the All-America Selections/Home Garden Seed Association's Summer/Fall Summit held October 5 to 8.

Read More
september_grow_rodale institute

August 25, 2015

Hospitals Are Getting Into The Organic Food Business

Growers investing in the organic food movement could serve a growing new area with vegetable transplants and starts, as well as produce, as hospitals begin to prescribe healthy diets and nutrition, and even go so far as to grow their own food. As part of a new phenomenon among progressive hospitals, health professionals are beginning to realize that without health and nutrition, programs and techniques may be done in vain or worse — obsolete. As more patients seeking a healthy diet turn to nutritionists, who recommend sugar-free, alkaline diets to prevent disease and aid in recovery, hospitals recognizing this trend are taking action. St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, Pa., recently contracted with the nearby Rodale Institute to manage an organic farm, established in 2014. The hospital, part of a six-campus network, aims to provide excellent healthcare, part of which includes educating patients about the benefits of a plant-based, organic diet. […]

Read More

August 21, 2015

Proven Winners Announces Roadshow Events For 2015

Proven Winner's Roadshow Events, held across North America, provide growers and retailers with the opportunity to learn how to grow Proven Winner's newest varieties and receive information about industry trends.

Read More
Latest Stories

August 4, 2015

New 2015 California Spring Trial Edibles For The Patio …

If you are looking to capitalize on the foodie trend and spread your risk beyond Spring sales, new vegetables showcased at 2015 California Spring Trials offer plenty of opportunities to focus on unique, flavorful vegetables and edible plants that also hold ornamental value. Here are a few of new varieties Editor Laura Drotleff and Group Editor Carol Miller discovered at Spring Trials that will help diversify your crop mix.

Read More

April 20, 2015

Three Michigan State University On-Demand Webinars Offe…

The first rule of effective insect and disease control for vegetables is to take action to prevent problems before they occur. But in order to do that, you need to have an effective pest and disease management strategy in place that incorporates best practices to ensure a successful outcome. Michigan State University offers three pest and disease management on-demand webinars that will get you started and keep you on the right track.

Read More

April 16, 2015

American Takii’s Asian Vegetable Line Is Designed…

Unlike many of the other breeders displaying at Spring Trials, American Takii didn’t have many new introductions. But it did have a new program that has prompted many visitors to post to social media — its Asian vegetables. Takii, which is well known for its vegetable breeding, is in the process of vetting the eight to 12 vegetables it will include in the program, and it should have its list fully complete by fall 2015. It is selecting plants that will be easy to use in Asian cooking and will help it stand out from the many vegetable programs in the ornamental market. The Takii marketing team designed bright-red Chinese food takeout containers to act as plant sleeves and a small booklet with five recipes. Honey Chicken With Pak Choy looked especially tasty. Take a look at how the program looks and let us know what you think.       HilverdaKooij is a […]

Read More
Zucchini 'Brice' (Syngenta Vegetables)

April 14, 2015

18 New Vegetables For Easy Growing And Healthy Eating

Current breeding efforts have focused on vegetable varieties that cater to small space and urban gardening trends and offer consumers good performance with minimal efforts. As a result, new, easy care vegetable introductions packed with flavor and loaded with fruits have swept onto the market. Here are 18 of the newest vegetables already on the market or hitting the market in 2016.

Read More

April 13, 2015

Keeping Your Greenhouse Vegetables And Fruits Safe: Ove…

This is the first installment of a four-part series that will bring you up to speed on what it takes to fulfill food safety mandates for greenhouse production.

Read More

April 10, 2015

5 Selection Principles For Vegetables That Sell

You gain a competitive edge when you select vegetable varieties that are right for your greenhouse and right for your customers. Here are five pieces of advice from breeders to help you stay ahead of the game.

Read More

March 31, 2015

California Summer Vegetable Trials To Be Hosted By Nati…

Vegetable breeding companies will come together this August to host the Summer Vegetable Trials in California. Like the long-standing California Spring Trials that are held annually in California, attendees will have the opportunity to visit breeding companies' trial sites in seven locations throughout the state, from August 20-21, 2015. National Garden Bureau (NGB), the non-profit organization promoting gardening on behalf of the horticulture industry, is organizing and publicizing this event on behalf of its members.

Read More

November 24, 2014

Root Crops And Plug Trays: A Perfect Match

Growing a plant to maturity in plug trays might be foreign to ornamental growers, but with a little help from plug tray manufacturers and breeders, there is little to hold growers back in this root crop category.

Read More

November 14, 2014

First Vegetatively Propagated All-America Selections (A…

All-America Selections (AAS) honors two vegetatively propagated impatiens with AAS winner status.

Read More

October 8, 2014

Gotham Greens To Build Rooftop Farm In Chicago

Gotham Greens announced October 7 that it has partnered with Method Products, an eco-friendly cleaning product company - to build what they are calling the "world's largest rooftop farm" at Method's new manufacturing plant in the Pullman neighborhood, on Chicago's south side.

Read More

August 19, 2014

A Look Ahead At Food Safety For Commercial Greenhouse V…

If you grow food in your greenhouse that is sold for consumption, food safety regulations will affect you. Here is a recap of Debbie Hamrick’s (North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation) Cultivate'14 presentation on food safety for commercial greenhouse vegetable production.

Read More

July 22, 2014

Bright Farms Launches Crowdfunding Campaign To Build Ur…

Urban farming pioneer Bright Farms is attempting to crowdfund what it hopes will be the "world's most productive urban farm," in Washington, D.C.

Read More

July 18, 2014

Meeting The Demand For Edibles: Go Green Agriculture In…

Read about how Go Green Agriculture Inc. took its business from the classroom to commercial reality in one of four articles on how growers are appealing to the growing interest in edibles.

Read More

July 18, 2014

Meeting The Demand For Edibles: Peace Tree Farm

Interest and response to Peace Tree Farm’s annuals and foliage plants continues to increase, but herb and vegetable starter plants is where the company makes its money. Read about it in one of four articles on how growers are appealing to the growing interest in edibles.

Read More

July 18, 2014

Meeting The Demand For Edibles: High Meadows Farm

Grants brought opportunities for High Meadows Farm to start growing raspberries and tomatoes. Read about it in one of four articles on how growers are appealing to the growing interest in edibles.

Read More

July 18, 2014

Meeting The Demand For Edibles: Altman Plants

Read about Altman Plants' venture into greenhouse vegetable production in one of four articles on how growers are appealing to the growing interest in edibles.

Read More

July 15, 2014

Cultivate’14: Vegetable Production Tour Highlight…

Check out photos from Greenhouse Grower's visit to CropKing Inc.'s research greenhouses as part of he vegetable production tour at Cultivate'14.

Read More

July 8, 2014

Veterans Are Well-Suited For Grower Jobs, And AgVets Is…

AgVets is breaking ground this summer with the first of up to 30 hydroponic greenhouse operations located throughout the country to provide produce to lower- and middle-income consumers.

Read More