The History of Penn Valley Farms

Penn Valley Farms is a 95 acre farm carved away in a large valley located just outside the historic town of Lititz in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The farm was originally part of a 540 acre homestead settled by Swiss immigrant Peter Reist the year 1735. In 1933, the grandfather of present owner J. Robert & Lois Keller bought the farm from the son-in-law of descendant Jacob Reist.

Early on, tobacco was a major player in farm cropping, but it was discontinued in the 1950's. Subsequently, the facilities used for processing the tobacco were removed and other practices put into place.

In the 60's and 70's beef became an important part of farming life on Penn Valley Farms as a feedlot and silos were built. The facilities enabled approximately 250 head of beef cattle to be fattened. Upon certification for organic crop production, finishing beef cattle was brought to an end with the exception of 4-H show cattle kept by neighboring young people. Crops then were marketed to local organic dairy farmers. In the future, plans are to resume raising beef cattle as grass fed beef.

During the late 70's, two caged layer houses were built to house 70,000 chickens. This brought an end to the small chicken pens where chickens were fed and their eggs gathered by hand. In 2003, the oldest chicken house was rebuilt to house a new free-range aviary system for organic egg production (the first of its kind in the U.S.). The second caged layer house production was later discontinued in 2010, and the equipment removed.

Composting became a part of Penn Valley Farms in the early 90's. It began on a small scale using a manure spreader to mix the materials, and a small crawler loader to turn the rows. Because our goal was an aerobic compost, it became very apparent that a compost turner should be purchased. In 1994 the first compost turner was brought to the farm purchased from Midwest Bio-Systems. A one acre pad was constructed for compost production and later expanded to two acres. Subsequently a compost screener was built to screen for potting soils and other applications. Since then the production of a high quality humus compost has been implemented and become a major part of the soil fertility program on Penn Valley Farms and its customers.

Currently, Penn Valley Farms is sole a producer of certified organic products. We are dedicated to good stewardship of our land as God has given us and providing high quality to our customers! Excellence is our goal!

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