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

More From Vegetables...
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

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

June 27, 2014

Growing Beyond New York, Gotham Greens Is Developing Pr…

Gotham Greens is considering the potential for partnering with growers for new ventures in cities across the U.S.

Read More

June 27, 2014

Gotham Greens Takes Locally Grown Produce To A Whole Ne…

Gotham Greens broke the boundaries of agriculture by building the country’s first commercial-scale rooftop greenhouse operation in Brooklyn, N.Y. Now it’s taking that vision further with two more locations and contracts to build in more cities.

Read More

June 25, 2014

New Trends, New Crops Offer New Possibilities For Edibl…

New small-space vegetables, container trends and flower/vegetable groupings contribute to a resurgence of interest in growing edibles.

Read More

April 11, 2014

Eight Standout Vegetables From Spring Trials [Slideshow…

Reflecting the consumers' passion for growing food, a number of breeders introduced attractive and flavorful vegetable varieties. Here are a few of my favorites.

Read More

April 10, 2014

Syngenta Opens Application Period For Grow More Vegetab…

The Syngenta Grow More Vegetables Seed Grant Program supports schools and community organizations interested in establishing or enhancing garden programs. Applications are now being accepted for 2014.

Read More

April 10, 2014

Managing Organic Food Waste In Your Business

The single largest component of the nation’s waste stream by weight is food waste. Here is what you need to consider before implementing a food waste collection system at your business.

Read More

April 10, 2014

Vegetalis Is Working To Make Growing Vegetables Easy Fo…

For the past four years, Vegetalis has presented container vegetable crops at Spring Trials, and while growers and retailers have been excited about Vegetalis’ offerings, there haven’t been enough sales. So this year, the company is working on a few new marketing concepts to bring Vegetalis’ considerable number of container veggies to retailers nationwide.

Read More