Laurel Vista started as a cooperative contract farm for Snyder of Berlin potato chips. Since then, increased demand for local produce at the retail level has grown dramatically. Many consumers now know that food travels on average 1500-2500 miles from farm to table and as a result, local produce is fresher, safer and more nutritious. And they know that buying local produce helps strengthen the region’s economy, saves local farms from development and protects the environment. Laurel Vista adapted to the changing times to meet these demands from discriminating, conscientious consumers. Green beans first became available in 2002 and onions and table potatoes in 2004.
From its inception, Laurel Vista has been committed to farmland preservation. The land on which Laurel Vista now sits was in danger of being subdivided for residential development because Ray Friedline was having trouble finding a buyer and it sat on the market for several years. When Ken & Rick (and Marian & Rita) bought the farm they were determined to sustain its profitability as a farm rather see the land developed.
The idea of Laurel Vista can be traced back to a hoary evening in the winter of 1987. Ken and Rick were up late one night at Rick and Rita’s cabin at Hidden Valley in the Laurel Highlands. With Marian and Rita snuggled in their beds, Ken and Rick sat down with a case of Genessee 12 Horse Ale and devised a plan that would allow both of them to express their love for the mountains and passion for farmland conservation. They decided to look for a farm.
Both grew up in rural counties — Rick in Greene County and Ken in Fayette. Ken had worked for many years as a master electrician and Rick as a public policy executive, but both had that American-dream restlessness and desire to work for themselves. In their search for a farm, they toured the Friedline potato farm and came upon its panorama of Laurel Ridge, part of which you see above. The search was over. After Marian and Rita saw it, all agreed to buy the farm — and get into a real growing business. Never would this skyline and farmland be given over to development. The name they came up with for the farm was of course inspired by the breathtaking view of Laurel Ridge. This is how Laurel Vista Farm got its name.
Today, Laurel Vista it is not only a potato farm but also a green bean farm and a sweet onion farm. And, we plan to add new products as time goes by. Hence it is now known as Laurel Vista Farms.
How We Grow
Our mission is to grow vegetables using methods that, in order of increasing importance, maximize flavor, sustain our farm and the environment and promote human health.
We at Laurel Vista Farms celebrate responsible farming in all its forms – conventional, organic, sustainable. Laurel Vista is a proud member of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (www.pasafarming.org).
We follow these methods in carrying out our mission:
- Rotate crops to avoid depleting the soil of nutrients and to provide barriers to pests and diseases.
- Grow only vegetables. Raise no animals on our farm so that we minimize the risk of bacterial contamination
of our products.
- Regularly test our soil to ensure its health and our water to ensure its purity.
- Use only those materials approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
- Follow material handling regulations and procedures and maintain updated certification.
- Grow crops that improve soil; e.g., we grow hay that is not sold but instead incorporated into the soil to increase biomass.
- Adopt conservation practices for our farmland that use USDA registered and approved programs to provide wildlife habitats in the form of forestland, grass areas, and water resources; and to control soil erosion with waterways, grass strips, and field contours.
- Sell our products within 100 miles of our farm so as to minimize our use of fossil fuel.
We believe that this is the best way for us to be accountable to you who consume our products because you can always come out to see us, get to know us, and look at how we grow your food.
“Products you trust from people you know.”