The Final 5

The Final 5


This year’s finalists for American Vegetable Grower’s (AVG) annual Grower Achievement Award are committed to excellence in everything they do. As you will read below, the five farms listed strive to do whatever it takes to reduce food safety risks, market their produce effectively, and be good stewards of the land — among other things.

The winner will be announced in the September issue. The award will be presented at the United Washington Public Policy Conference in October.
To determine the winner, a panel of judges was assembled to discuss the merits of each finalist. AVG received many nominations again this year with several outstanding candidates. What follows are highlights gleaned from the five finalists.

The Chef’s Garden
Location: Huron, OH
Owners: Bob Jones Sr. and sons Lee
and Bob Jr.
Vegetable Acres: 200-plus
Crops: Mixed vegetables including micro greens, micro herbs, heirloom vegetables, specialty lettuces, and edible flowers

The Chef’s Garden delivers sustainably grown specialty produce direct from the farm to restaurants around the world.

The farm uses advanced food safety programs that include routine testing and a bar-coding system that tracks a product from seed to shipping. As food safety is critical on the farm, Bob Jones Jr., a past president of the Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association, has been very involved in developing the Ohio Produce Marketing Agreement.

Focusing mainly on customer service, the operation likes to see the produce go from earth to table in less than 24 hours. Catering to the needs of chefs, the farm strives to develop products in new sizes, colors, textures, and flavors.

The Chef’s Garden also has a strong focus on promoting the health benefits of vegetables to children. Veggie U, a not for profit program founded by the farm, is designed to teach fourth graders about how vegetables are produced and the benefits of good nutrition.

 

 

Formisano Farms
Location: Buena, NJ
Owners: John Sr., Ralph, and John Jr. Formisano
Vegetable Acres: 350
Crops: Fennel, romaine, specialty greens and herbs, and potted perennials

Known for being a leader in new market development and specialty crop marketing, Formisano Farms sells its produce through wholesale channels, including shippers at the Vineland and Landisville Co-ops, as well as their own shipping company.

Named the Fennel King of South Jersey by New York Times food writer and cookbook author Craig Claiborne, their signature crop has been featured in numerous media outlets, promoting the variety and quality of produce grown in the greater Vineland area.

Owner, John Formisano Sr. has been an active leader in numerous farm groups and a promoter of the Vegetable Growers Association of New Jersey.

Ralph takes care of the daily sales, office records, and pesticide applications through Collingswood Community Farmers’ Market and direct business-to-business deliveries to florists throughout the greater Philadelphia region.

John Jr. is gradually taking over the reins of production from the greenhouse transplant and nursery production through field operations. The acres are double- and sometimes triple-cropped each season, producing fresh market greens and herbs from early April through November.

 

Pasquinelli Produce

Location: Yuma, AZ
Owner: Gary Pasquinelli
Vegetable Acres: 8,500
Crops: Watermelon, cauliflower, celery, broccoli, spinach, romaine, iceberg, red leaf, green leaf, and butter lettuce

Davie Brooks has been the grower at Pasquinelli Produce for more than 33 years and runs the day-to-day field operations. He is said to be one of the first growers to successfully implement a cauliflower trap crop system in the 1990s against sweetpotato whiteflies.

Brooks and assistant grower Calvin Morris also were involved with building a machine that could gently load watermelon off the left or right side, simplifying the harvesting process and cutting labor by about 35%. In addition, Brooks says thanks to the machine, the workers don’t walk on the vines.

Pasquinelli regularly uses drip irrigation for both melons and vegetable production and has adapted it to desert growing conditions. The operation also uses floating row covers for winter melon production for both earliness and aphid-virus control.

Pasquinelli has a strict crop rotational program aimed at sustaining soil health and weed management. The farm also employs two in-house entomologists.

 
TKM Bengard Farms, LLC
Location: Belle Glade, FL
Owners: TKM farms, Inc. and Bengard Harvesting
Vegetable Acres: 6,500-plus
Crops: Iceberg lettuce, romaine, green leaf, boston, endive, escarole, cabbage, parsley, cilantro, frisee, radicchio, sweet corn, cantaloupe, and honeydew melons

TKM Bengard Farms is a family operation that has grown lettuce for four generations. The Basore family first began growing lettuce on muck soil in Michigan as a rotational crop for onions. In 1969, they started growing lettuce in Belle Glade, FL. Eventually they became a major lettuce supplier for South Bay Growers. In 1996, the Basores first partnered with the Bengard family out of Salinas, CA.

The varieties of lettuce, as well as other crops grown on the farm, are diverse as the operation changes to meet the needs of the health-conscious consumer. They strive to ensure food quality and food safety by implementing the latest technology throughout their growing, harvesting, pre-cooling, and shipping operations.

TKM Bengard Farms is the largest lettuce grower east of the Mississippi river. Their success has been largely possible due to the growth of the bag salad industry and it has been sustained by the demand for regional wrap lettuce.

 

Trax Farms

Location: Finleyville, PA
Owners: Bob Trax Sr., John Trax, and Tim Trax
Vegetable Acres: 300
Crops: Strawberries, sweet corn, tomatoes, pumpkins, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, plus fruit crops

Trax Farms was established by Lewis Trax in 1865 and has been operated by the family for six generations with the seventh generation now working on the farm. President Bob Trax Sr., who received the Master Farmer Award in 1997, has been a member of the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association for more than 20 years. For more than 15 years, Trax also has been a member of the marketing research board in Pennsylvania.

One of the farm’s goals is to do whatever it can to retail all of its crops. The result is a farm market that is open year-round. An expansion in 2000 added 40,000 square feet of greenhouses to the operation.

Agritourism is another important aspect of the business. The farm offers U-pick strawberries and blueberries, and hosts numerous events.

Trax Farms also donates produce to local food banks and received an award from Meals on Wheels Asso-ciation of America.

 

Leave a Reply

One comment on “The Final 5

Featured Stories
Grapes
June 26, 2017
Washington Grape Grower Battles New Threat
Apples, cherries, and pears are also threatened by Tobacco Ringspot Virus, a pathogen never before seen in Washington state. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 26, 2017
Cosmic Changes Coming in Production [Opinion]
‘Cosmic Crisp’ is an apt moniker for Washington’s new apple, because the changes coming to the industry are immense Read More
Crop Protection
June 25, 2017
Study Suggests Closer-Proximity Lures Help Increase Insect Pest Catches
Research shows single-trap locations are not as effective as those kept close together. Read More
girl on smartphone
GenNext Growers
June 24, 2017
Find the Food Safety Apps That Are Right for You
There are a lot of choices available for growers. We’ve sifted through them to help figure out which ones will best suit you. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 23, 2017
Take Advantage of Technology to Help Manage Diseases, Pest Pressure
Expert farm advisers provide several options for apple orchard management decisions. Read More
Mobile technology farming
Citrus
June 22, 2017
Technology Boom Boosting Farm Life to a New Level [Opinion]
Whether it is human genetics or genetics applied to plants, knowledge is growing at a dizzying pace. Read More
Crop Protection
June 21, 2017
Certis Bolsters Biopesticide Business Portfolio with Acquisition
Addition of LAM International to allow for expansion of product development. Read More
Food Safety
June 21, 2017
Organization Seeks Winegrape Exemption Produce Safety Rule
California Association of Winegrape Growers says because winegrapes are grown for processing, they should be exempt from produce safety rule. Read More
Crop Protection
June 21, 2017
Early-Season Scouting Tips for Sweet Corn Growers
Black cutworm and true armyworm have been caught in relatively high numbers across the Midwest, including Michigan. Learn more about determining risk and scouting in your sweet corn plantings. Read More
honeybee with varroa mite
Citrus
June 21, 2017
Study Suggests Modern Beekeeping Gives Varroa Mites Ideal Conditions to Spread
Parasite has adapted, thrived with colonies in modern hives. Read More
More Vegetables
June 21, 2017
Variety Specs | Production Tips: Pumpkin ‘Bayhorse Gold’ from Rupp Seeds
Each month, American Vegetable Grower® will offer growing tips on specific varieties, supplied by the breeder or distributor. This month, Read More
Citrus
June 21, 2017
Storm Runoff May Recharge Aquifers and Your Crops
A new study hints that tapping into storm water during dry years does more than increase water table levels. Read More
Citrus greening and psyllids
Insect & Disease Update
June 21, 2017
First Case of Deadly Citrus Disease Confirmed in Alabama
State agriculture officials taking action to assess and stop the spread of HLB.  Read More
Florida orange juice label close-up
Citrus
June 21, 2017
Help Consumers Read past Negative Headlines About Orange Juice
When it comes to this liquid sunshine, there are plenty of positives to point out. Read More
Cucurbit leaf crumple virus
Cucurbits
June 20, 2017
Take Caution to Curb Cucurbit Leaf Crumple Virus
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this disease. Read More
The Latest
Grapes
June 26, 2017
Washington Grape Grower Battles New Thre…
Apples, cherries, and pears are also threatened by Tobacco Ringspot Virus, a pathogen never before seen in Washington state. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 26, 2017
Cosmic Changes Coming in Production [Opi…
‘Cosmic Crisp’ is an apt moniker for Washington’s new apple, because the changes coming to the industry are immense Read More
Crop Protection
June 25, 2017
Study Suggests Closer-Proximity Lures He…
Research shows single-trap locations are not as effective as those kept close together. Read More
GenNext Growers
June 24, 2017
Find the Food Safety Apps That Are Right…
There are a lot of choices available for growers. We’ve sifted through them to help figure out which ones will best suit you. Read More
Apples & Pears
June 23, 2017
Take Advantage of Technology to Help Man…
Expert farm advisers provide several options for apple orchard management decisions. Read More
Citrus
June 22, 2017
Technology Boom Boosting Farm Life to a …
Whether it is human genetics or genetics applied to plants, knowledge is growing at a dizzying pace. Read More
Crop Protection
June 21, 2017
Certis Bolsters Biopesticide Business Po…
Addition of LAM International to allow for expansion of product development. Read More
Food Safety
June 21, 2017
Organization Seeks Winegrape Exemption P…
California Association of Winegrape Growers says because winegrapes are grown for processing, they should be exempt from produce safety rule. Read More
Crop Protection
June 21, 2017
Early-Season Scouting Tips for Sweet Cor…
Black cutworm and true armyworm have been caught in relatively high numbers across the Midwest, including Michigan. Learn more about determining risk and scouting in your sweet corn plantings. Read More
Citrus
June 21, 2017
Study Suggests Modern Beekeeping Gives V…
Parasite has adapted, thrived with colonies in modern hives. Read More
More Vegetables
June 21, 2017
Variety Specs | Production Tips: Pumpkin…
Each month, American Vegetable Grower® will offer growing tips on specific varieties, supplied by the breeder or distributor. This month, Read More
Citrus
June 21, 2017
Storm Runoff May Recharge Aquifers and Y…
A new study hints that tapping into storm water during dry years does more than increase water table levels. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
June 21, 2017
First Case of Deadly Citrus Disease Conf…
State agriculture officials taking action to assess and stop the spread of HLB.  Read More
Citrus
June 21, 2017
Help Consumers Read past Negative Headli…
When it comes to this liquid sunshine, there are plenty of positives to point out. Read More
Cucurbits
June 20, 2017
Take Caution to Curb Cucurbit Leaf Crump…
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this disease. Read More
Berries
June 20, 2017
Don’t Be Fooled By Rust in Your Brambles
Knowing whether you have orange rust disease or cane leaf rust is important for proper control methods. Read More
Farm Management
June 20, 2017
5 Alternative Crops Florida Farmers Shou…
Here’s a look at new selections being vetted that might have a place in fields around the Sunshine State. Read More
Citrus
June 19, 2017
$9M in Grants Allocated to Address Ag Wa…
Projects that focus on drought stress, flooding, water quality, and postharvest use are among awardees. Read More