Meeting The Demand For Edibles: Peace Tree Farm

Lloyd and Candy Traven, Peace Tree Farm
Lloyd and Candy Traven at Peace Tree Farm believe the production of finished edible crops is well suited for the high end greenhouse space they have available during the winter.
Photo courtesy of Peace Tree Farm

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

While consumer interest and response to Peace Tree Farm’s unique annuals and foliage plants continues to increase, herb and vegetable starter plants is where the company makes its money.

“We are certified organic, so organic farmers and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) contract with us through direct sales and brokers,” says Lloyd Traven, co-owner of the Kintnersville, Pa., operation.

“We sell the vegetables, herbs and ornamentals to growers all over North America,” he says.

The company also has a finished plant program of vegetables in different configurations for garden centers, which carries much of load for them, particularly in the spring.

Not A Silver Bullet

Traven wants bedding plant growers who are experiencing financial difficulties to know that greenhouse vegetables won’t solve their problems.

“Some growers are looking at greenhouse vegetables as the savior of their company because they are not making any money from bedding plants,” Traven says. “I am looking at this from a different perspective because I am making money from selling ornamental plants now.”

According to Traven, Peace Tree Farm’s situation has turned around for his company in the last year and a half. There were some years prior to that during which the company was not making money on annuals.

The turnaround in sales has come without any greenhouse produce production at all. Rather, the turnaround for his company was the result of completely changing the company’s business model.

Picture 057, Peace Tree Farm
Peace Tree Farm is looking to finish herbs and vegetables, including mixed greens and microgreens, for a variety of customers who have said they will buy whatever the company can produce.
Photo courtesy of Peace Tree Farm

“We needed to change our customer base, how we sell plants to them and why we sell to them,” Traven says. “We have walked away totally from mainstream products. We are almost a no-petunia zone. All of the typical annual plants are just not here anymore.”

Some of the plants no longer available include calibrachoa, scaevola, verbena and zonal geraniums. The company will grow for order, but will not speculate one pot whatsoever.

“We have plenty of geraniums, but we are only doing heirloom foliage geraniums, the oddball ones,” Traven says. “If there is a variegated geranium, we’ll grow it. The odd stuff is what we do.”

Because Peace Tree Farm isn’t growing typical bedding plants anymore, the company has become more active with social media.

“We market more to consumers than we do to garden centers,” Traven says. “We get people talking about our plants. Our biggest growth is with botanical gardens and museums. Rare plant sales and things like that. Those are the people who are buying our full range of unique selections, including annuals, tropicals, edible ornamentals and perennials.”

Botanical gardens have been key customers in returning Peace Tree Farm to profitability. The botanical gardens give the company a push by promoting plants to its guests and through social media.

“The botanical gardens are where consumers are seeing this fun stuff, and they talk about it,” Traven says. “They then go to their local garden centers and say ‘I want these plants.’ The garden centers then contact us for the plants. It’s the botanical gardens and their social media efforts that generate the interest with consumers.”

Expanding Winter Production

Finished vegetables would add to the revenue Peace Tree Farm can generate during winter months, along with new business that has come recently from being the primary sourcing company for forcing flowers for major winter flower shows.

“We are doing the Philadelphia Flower Show, which is the largest and oldest indoor flower show, along with the Macy’s Flower Shows in New York and Philadelphia and shows in Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Connecticut and New Jersey,” Traven says. “Three years ago we didn’t have any of these shows as major customers, but we invested heavily in servicing a totally unique market niche. These shows provide significant cash flow in the dead of winter.”

As a result of this new business, Christmas has become a minor business for Peace Tree.

“We are growing a few poinsettias this year,” Traven says. “We have dropped 4- and 6-inch poinsettias. We will give up every inch of space of poinsettias for any other crop and that’s where the opportunity for finished vegetables comes in.”

Fifty percent of Peace Tree’s space in the winter is now devoted to flower show forcing. Another 10 to 15 percent of space is devoted to year-round propagation. According to Traven, that still leaves a lot of high quality, high end greenhouse space available for another crop.

“We are looking at finished herbs and vegetables for the food market, which includes mixed greens and a few other items,” Traven says.

Traven has four different customers, including a national and regional grocery chain, lined up, all of whom have said they will take 100 percent of the finished vegetables he can profitably grow during this period of the year.

“Some of the varieties we are currently propagating may stay the same, but the production method would totally change,” Traven says. “But the structure and infrastructure shouldn’t have to change at all. I would be selling the last of these finished crops in March, when I would start selling the transplants for spring.”

For more information on Peace Tree Farm, contact 610-847-8152; or visit Peace Tree Farm’s website or Facebook page.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Meeting The Demand For Edibles: Peace Tree Farm

  1. Commodity sellers don’t read this: This is a strategy for anyone who sees the writing on the wall as far as commoditization of PVC (Lloyd’s term for petunia, verbena and calibrichoa), and the need to develop other ways to make margin. Developing a niche clientele and priming the market for pull through are the real substance. The cool unique plants are almost incidental to that. We need more customers walking through the retail doors and it isn’t all on the back of the retailer to create that. Someone has to lead the way for the retailer, and that should be their suppliers. Telling them that selling the same commodities as everyone else and be happy about it is just asking them to stick their heads in the same sand as the top of the supply chain.

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
Asian-Vegetables-Lettue-Trio-American-Takii

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
Basil_Persian-AAS2015_620x329

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