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There are several processing plants for vegetables in Pennsylvania however; most of the production to supply these processors is under contact. The processor supplies some or all of the production inputs in exchange for a guaranteed market for the production. These farms are usually considerably larger than most of the farms that supply direct marketing outlets.
Small-scale vegetable production has increased over the past ten years due in part to the demand for local products and healthier eating patterns. Few homeowners have the land necessary to supply them with vegetables year-around. For this reason, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), farmer's markets, and roadside stands offering fresh vegetables and locally grown melons has increased. The use of a transplanter, plastic mulch, and trickle irrigation has expanded the amount of production a few people can handle, increasing the earning potential on a small-scale operation. You may need to add harvest laborers as this is the most time consuming task in vegetable production.
Research and support from Penn State Extension has provided substantial information to guide producers during the production season.
If you are seeking information regarding vegetable and melon production and marketing practices, the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable (MAFV) Convention which is usually held the end of January or beginning of February in Hershey PA is an excellent source of information. The convention also includes a trade show where you can discuss your needs with various suppliers. Another source of information is the Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) which also holds a conference and trade show in State College PA. This conference usually follows immediately after the MAFV convention.
The Agricultural Alternatives publication series contains marketing, production, and budgeting information for many vegetable and melon crops produced in Pennsylvania. Search for Agricultural Alternatives and then the crop you are considering to view the information.