On Thursday, September 7, 2023, more than thirty PSPA members and guests traveled to Lancaster County to get a sampling of the supply chain in the region which makes it a national powerhouse for the agriculture and food industry. The program offered a close-up look at several unique links in the agricultural supply and distribution chains, touring the Leola Produce Auction, the Oregon Dairy Farm, Rohrer’s Seeds, and Shady Maple Smorgasbord. PSPA Secretary Scott Sheely was the host for the tour.
- The tour began at Leola Produce Auction at 135 Brethren Church Rd, Leola, PA 17540 where our subject matter expert was Jeff Stoltzfus, Lancaster County Extension Educator. Stoltzfus explained the pivotal role that the five auctions in the areas play in supporting the marketing and distribution of produce for the small farmer and small user of produce user. The imagery of buggies on one side bringing in product and small trucks leaving the auction full of product was not lost on those attending.
- Next, the tour moved to Rohrer Seeds at 2472 Old Philadelphia Pike, Lancaster, PA 17602 with subject matter experts, James Greisemer, Retail and Garden Seed Operations Manager (DelVal graduate) and Grace Book, Retail Store and Operations Manager providing leadership. They told that story of the target market at Rohrer’s changing from farmers to more of a mix of producers and gardeners. Sales through social media have allowed expansion while keeping costs low. Many of those attending also appreciated that way a 100 year old packaging for pharmaceuticals was retrofitted to pack seeds…functional low tech.
- George Hurst and Maria Forry from Oregon Dairy, 2900 Oregon Pike, Lititz, PA 17543 continued the topic of change and innovation is agriculture by explaining the strategy of the farm to reduce its dairy herd from 500 to 50 cows while adding agritainment and other forms of diversification on the farm.
- Finally, lunch was at Shady Maple Smorgasbord, 1324 Main Street, East Earl, PA 1751 where we will enjoy the PA Dutch lunch buffet, one of the largest in Pennsylvania.
During the short program that followed, President Arland Hotchkiss presented the Gold Medal of the Society to Dr. Darryl Biery; Education Chair Carl Brown introduced Barbara Winter and one of the 2023 Winter Scholarship, Erin Quinn who is studying at Rutgers University; and acknowledged new members Mohamed Cisse and the Berks County Agriculture Department.