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
Credit: Jim Ringelman, Ducks Unlimited, used with permission.
Farm Management
May 25, 2016
NRCS Invests $4.3 Million To Combat Climate Change
The Natural Resources Conservation Service in California is committing funds to help farmers and ranchers mitigate the effects of climate change and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Read More
Port Tampa Bay shipping channel
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Panama Canal Expansion To Bring Trade Opportunities To Florida
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says a confluence of events is putting the state's producers in a good spot to open new markets. Read More
anti-GMO corn spoof via social media
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Social Media Posts On GMOs Falling Flat [Opinion]
Hopefully, the hysteria the West has perpetuated on genetic engineering will not stifle the potential of moving our production forward enough to help feed a growing global population. Read More
Photo credit: USDA
Fruits
May 24, 2016
Organic Food Sales Hit Record $43.3 Billion In 2015
Organic Trade Association says organic fruits and vegetables logged sales of $14.4 billion. Read More
CA- Winegrape Vineyard
Grapes
May 24, 2016
Sea Change Coming To California Winegrape Landscape
Vines continue to be pulled from the state’s interior, while planting is expected to increase along coast and in Delta area. Read More
non-gmo label leafy greens
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Report Says GMOs Offer No Risk To Human Health
The study stresses the need for proper resistance management, the need for a different ways to evaluate all new crop varieties, regardless of process in which they were developed. Read More
Florida Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam checks out prepared school lunches. School meals are looking more colorful these days as fresh produce finds a place on the tray.
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Full-Time Effort Required To Feed Farm-To-School Programs
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam gives a shout-out to those providing fuel to kids during the school year as well as the summer months. Read More
Photo credit: USDA
Citrus
May 23, 2016
World Health Organization Experts: Glyphosate Not Carcinogenic
Risk unlikely when consuming crops treated with herbicide. Read More
Food safety meeting for growers in Florida
Citrus
May 23, 2016
Florida Growers Putting Food Safety On Front Burner
Specialty crop industry stakeholders hungry to understand what’s ahead as FDA begins implementing new food safety rules. Read More
Example of cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus
Cucurbits
May 21, 2016
Cucurbit Yellow Stunting Disorder Virus Cases Flaring In South Florida
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this vegetable disease. Read More
The Latest
Farm Management
May 25, 2016
NRCS Invests $4.3 Million To Combat Clim…
The Natural Resources Conservation Service in California is committing funds to help farmers and ranchers mitigate the effects of climate change and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Read More
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Panama Canal Expansion To Bring Trade Op…
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says a confluence of events is putting the state's producers in a good spot to open new markets. Read More
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Social Media Posts On GMOs Falling Flat …
Hopefully, the hysteria the West has perpetuated on genetic engineering will not stifle the potential of moving our production forward enough to help feed a growing global population. Read More
Fruits
May 24, 2016
Organic Food Sales Hit Record $43.3 Bill…
Organic Trade Association says organic fruits and vegetables logged sales of $14.4 billion. Read More
Grapes
May 24, 2016
Sea Change Coming To California Winegrap…
Vines continue to be pulled from the state’s interior, while planting is expected to increase along coast and in Delta area. Read More
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Report Says GMOs Offer No Risk To Human …
The study stresses the need for proper resistance management, the need for a different ways to evaluate all new crop varieties, regardless of process in which they were developed. Read More
Citrus
May 24, 2016
Full-Time Effort Required To Feed Farm-T…
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam gives a shout-out to those providing fuel to kids during the school year as well as the summer months. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2016
World Health Organization Experts: Glyph…
Risk unlikely when consuming crops treated with herbicide. Read More
Citrus
May 23, 2016
Florida Growers Putting Food Safety On F…
Specialty crop industry stakeholders hungry to understand what’s ahead as FDA begins implementing new food safety rules. Read More
Cucurbits
May 21, 2016
Cucurbit Yellow Stunting Disorder Virus …
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this vegetable disease. Read More
Nuts
May 20, 2016
Bank Predicts A Roller Coaster Ride For …
Supply expected to grow by more than one-third in next five years, but decreasing demand may lower prices. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
May 20, 2016
Yara International Pledges $100,000 To S…
Scholarship will fund University of Florida undergraduate and graduate students. Read More
Citrus
May 20, 2016
Florida Farmland Becoming Big Deal For I…
Real estate values in the Sunshine State dictated by money looking for a home. Read More
Citrus
May 19, 2016
Bayer Makes Bid For Monsanto
Monsanto says proposal is being reviewed by board of directors as well as legal and financial advisors. Read More
GenNext Growers
May 19, 2016
Get To Know Rory Crowley Of The Almond L…
The assistant operations manager and director of business and research development for the Nicolaus Nut Company, Rory Crowley talks about how the Almond Leadership Program helped him prepare for the future. Read More
Disease Control
May 19, 2016
Native Plants Reduce Need For Vineyard W…
Scientists in eastern Washington are finding drought-tolerant alternatives to roses at the end of vineyard rows that not only save Read More
Grapes
May 18, 2016
Minnesota Has New Cold-Hardy, Lower-Acid…
The University of Minnesota has released a new cold-hardy grape that holds promise for winemakers wanting to make dryer wines Read More
Farm Management
May 17, 2016
Tour De Fresh Cycling Event Will Raise F…
The goal for 2016 is to place 50 additional salad bars in schools across the country. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]