The traditional way to diversify a farm operation to keep income coming in all year long and not put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak, was to grow different crops, and add in livestock, maybe hogs, cattle or sheep. David and Mary Howell, Middletown, use the same concept to help their farm operation grow. They just don't use the same choices. Their version of how to diversify the operation if far different than the traditional one.
The Howells were into retail vegetables decades ago, supplementing their row-crop operations. "When a son was ready to come back, we decided to diversify by raising wholesale vegetables, not just retail," Mary explains.
In fact, today, they take care of about 1,000 acres of vegetables, all sold wholesale or for processing. Except for processing tomatoes, most of them wind up in what most people describe as big box stores,. They no longer do retail vegetables. The switch to the larger volume wholesale operation helped them do a better job of bringing a son into the business, they notes.
Their crops include processing tomatoes for Red Gold, pumpkins, and until this year, watermelons. In their place, this year they're raising staked tomatoes and peppers to see how those crops fir their operation.
Their other major form of diversity, which came along about the time the second son wanted to enter the business, is also unconventional by most people's definition of diversifying the farm. The two sons started a soybean and cotton farm in Brazil. They have investors in their operation. One son lives in Brazil most of the year, while the other lives here and helps manage via modern communications.
Congratulations to David and Mary Howell, who have certainly farmed together for many decades, and who certainly have done things their own way.