Fruit and vegetables are grown on 350 acres of the 500 acre farm. Agronomic crops are grown on the remaining acreage. 90% of the harvest goes to several year-round retail markets and the rest is wholesaled. They grow all types of vegetables--as Brett says, "From A to Z".
Part of their marketing strategy is to not compete when there is an abundance of product on the market. For example, they plant early sweet corn on plastic followed by cucumbers for the late season. They also supplement what they grow with products, like bananas and mushrooms, to make it convenient for customers to meet their produce needs at one location. They use social to media to connect with their customers and see the opportunity to expand the use of this technology. Both of the brothers said that the marketing side is harder than the production side.
Most crops, except sweet corn, beans, cucumbers and a few others, are started as transplants using 98-, 128-, and 228-cell flats. Henry likes to use Coconut Coir Potting Medium packaged in Quarryville, Pennsylvania. He's used other types, but prefers the drainage with this one.
Vegetables are irrigated using drip or sprinkler irrigation with the water source being farm ponds. For drip irrigation, 48 inch diameter Fresno Valves and Castings stainless steel sand filters with automated back-flushing and gas engine pumping units are mounted on a trailer. Trailers are positioned near the ponds.
Each unit also has a Mazzi fertigation injector and can irrigate or fertigate 3 to 5 acres at a time. Units like these probably retail for about $18,000.
Water is supplied from the pumping and filtering unit to the field through underground pipe with risers positioned in strategic locations throughout the farm. They double crop on plastic mulch as much as possible. Early crops are harvested and late ones are planted into the same plastic. They've tried degradable mulches in the past, but had issues with it degrading too early in the season resulting in weed problems.
We came from the trip with the feeling that Brett and Henry love what they are doing and they inherited this passion from their dad.
Kenny Stehr & Sons can be found on Facebook
Kenny Stehr & Sons
34 Bull Rd.
Pitman, PA 17964
Tanner Delvalle, Henry Stehr and Brett Stehr (left to right).