HUNTINGDON COUNTY: Community-Supported Agriculture, Flowers

Plowshare Produce: Sharing the Work

Plowshare Produce, is producing certified organic vegetables for 60 CSA members on about 2 acres in central Pennsylvania (Huntingdon County). Bethany and Micah Spicher-Schonberg plant over 50 kinds of vegetables in the field with the help of their draft horses. They also have two high tunnels where they raise tomatoes in the summer months and greens during the winter season. They sell additional organic vegetables through the Tuscarora Growers Cooperative.

Bethany and Micah are new farmers in their third year of offering CSA. They owe their success, they say, to workshare members who help them plant, weed, wash and pack produce, and various other jobs. "We offer 60 shares in our CSA, of which 10 are work shares," Bethany said. "We could not do what we do without their help, so it's important to choose them well. We recruit work share members during the winter when we're not so busy, and try to get to know them well. We have them for lunch and talk about their prior work experience. We want them to have a good experience with us, and we need to know that they are a good fit for our farm."

Another strategy for success is focusing on the most profitable market, Bethany said. "We started a farmstand our first year to sell our extra produce. It was a tremendous amount of work and very discouraging. On good days it was profitable, but it was always exhausting, so we chose to add more customers and focus on what we do best--CSA. To sell any extra produce, we now advertise a "pick list" to our customers and neighbors who want to can and freeze vegetables."

An important part of their business are their high tunnels. They have two tunnels, including a new 30' by 70' Tunnel funded by the USDA Seasonal High Tunnel Pilot Project. The tunnels produce tomatoes, peppers, and other heat-loving crops in the summer, and lettuce, spinach, and mesclun mix in the winter. "The tunnels can produce $5,000 in sales of winter greens, and that money is sorely appreciated in the off season," said Bethany.

Pennsylvania Women's Agricultural Network


302 Armsby Building
University Park, PA 16802