Apr 7, 2007Farm Market Successful With Second Store
A second location has expanded business options for Peaceful Valley Orchards, to the point where the original location is no longer as pivotal as it used to be.
In 2001, Meredith and Jeremy Compton bought the original, 85-acre farm, located in Pittstown, N.J. The farm hadn’t been active for a few years when the Comptons bought it, but they fixed it up and opened for business in July 2001, according to www.peacefulvalleyorchards.com. A key part of the farm was its farm market, located on a major highway.
Late last year, the Comptons bought another, bigger farm, which opened for business in April. They resisted buying it for months, but eventually decided it would be best to be their own competition, since the new farm is only four miles down the road from the original farm, Meredith said. It, too, had a farm market.
So far, the new farm is winning the competition. It has several advantages. At 150 acres, it’s bigger than the original farm (though about half the acres are wooded), and the new farm store is about 25 times the size of the original store.
The new store is open April through December, whereas the old store is open July through Thanksgiving. The new store has a large kitchen. It allows the Comptons to make quiche, soup, salads, pasta, pies, breads, cakes, cookies and other items using their own products, which they couldn’t do before because of a lack of facilities.
The new farm has allowed the owners to grow a larger variety of crops. Apples are still the main crop, but there are pumpkins, sweet corn, tomatoes, peaches, broccoli, asparagus and flowers, Meredith said.
Location also is a factor. Even though they’re both located on the same road, a major thoroughfare for commuters, the original farm misses a lot of traffic that the new farm picks up. The thoroughfare, Pittstown Road, runs near a major highway. It’s about 50 minutes from New York City, she said.
The new farm has a great deer fence and a better irrigation system, which gives its new owners more flexibility when it comes to growing crops, she said.
“We like to add a couple of new things every year,” she said. “We finally have the infrastructure to do that.”
The new farm will allow them to host festivals, craft fairs, farm camps, fundraisers and other agritourism activities, including u-pick and corn mazes. It’s becoming so successful that it’s slowly turning into the main property, Meredith said.
The original farm still plays an important role, however. Most of Peaceful Valley Orchards’ apple trees, about 28 acres, are located there. U-pick apple operations will always be held there, she said.
The Comptons own the business, but lease the property at both locations. They’d like to buy the land eventually, but land prices in New Jersey are outrageous, she said.
Both Meredith and Jeremy have agricultural backgrounds. Jeremy was raised on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and worked for Rutgers University at the Snyder Research Farm. Meredith attended Delaware Valley College of Science and Agriculture in Doylestown, Pa., then got a job at Snyder Research Farm, where she met Jeremy. She still works at the research farm, but Jeremy now devotes his full time to Peaceful Valley Orchards, she said.
Jeremy does all of the spraying and most of the pruning. A handful of seasonal employees help out, but the farm can’t afford too many at this point, Meredith said.
“We hope to become the place in the community where people stop to get fresh fruits and vegetables,” she said.