Local veggie box program thriving

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While she says good help is hard to find, Bedeque’s Kathy Ware always welcomes a helping hand from her granddaughter Hailey.

SUMMERSIDE - When Kathy Ware started out four years ago she didn’t have high hopes.

After working elsewhere for three years, she came back to her farm roots in Bedeque for the summer.

Her aim wasn’t to build a career around what she began that summer, but today Crystal Green Farms’ veggie box business is growing like the vegetables she farms from the red Island dirt.

“I just wanted to be my own boss again,” Ware said. “It started out as a summer job, and then we worked through the winter that first year, and it just grew from there. And we’ve grown with it.”

Ware started out that summer with 18 customers located in Summerside. Today, she delivers between 80 and 100 boxes a week during the summer, and bi-weekly throughout the winter. For $25 per box she delivers to customers in Summerside, Kensington and Winsloe.

“It started as a way to see if I could make it work,” Ware said.

Over that first summer, her curiosity began to grow, as did her confidence. She made the choice to operate throughout the winter, and the business has been on the way up ever since.

“It’s a way to make a living. Probably not a way to get rich, but definitely a way to make a living.”

With her client list growing all the time, Ware said she notices a large variation in her customers.

“It’s a wide range of people that do it. We have couples that are in their fifties, and we have younger families with young babies. A very wide range really.”

While selling local products to a wide variety of local people, keeping good relationships with customers is important, she said.

“You learn to build up a loyalty to your customers. It’s a fun lifestyle and it’s rewarding.”

On top of growing their own vegetables, Crystal Green Farms also grinds its own wheat for muffin and pancake mixes, and provides fresh eggs in their veggie boxes.

Growing her own food has always been important for her, she said.

“We were raised very local and very organic, in that we had a big garden.”

It was a concept Ware carried over while raising her own.

“I raised my family from the farm basically. We didn’t have a lot of money so you learn to utilize what you have, and we had our own beef and our own garden.”

Ware hires on two extra workers in the summer, one part-time and one full-time. Aside from that, she keeps it a family affair.

“Often the hardest part is finding good help,” she laughed. “It’s not easy to find people who enjoy it as much as we do.”

With business having increased fivefold since the program began, they’ve begun to use heated greenhouses to expand their growing season along with their expanding client list.

As long as supply can match the demand, Ware said she plans to continue expanding.

“As long as we can keep handling it and get some help, we’ll keep growing.”

Geographic location: SUMMERSIDE, Bedeque, Kensington

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Recent comments

  • Michael Dubé
    February 13, 2013 - 09:58

    My wife Valerie and I are wondering if you could deliver a veggie box all the way to Cuenca, Ecuador as we are living here for six months. We will be visiting the Island this summer in June and we hope to have an opportunity to visit you and your family. What a wonderful business that you have! Wishing you all the best in your endeavors.

  • Rachel
    February 13, 2013 - 09:33

    greengfarms@yahoo.com

  • Kim
    February 12, 2013 - 18:13

    My family was one of the first 18! We still love it today and are very excited to see new things pop up in the boxes all the time! Thanks for helping me feed my kids healthy, local food!

  • brenda testu
    February 12, 2013 - 16:52

    we have been buying most of our meats and veggies from crystal Green Farms for about a year. The food is very good tasting. i can taste the difference in all the food that we get from them. I highly recommend them to everybody.

  • Seb
    February 12, 2013 - 16:11

    I, too, would like to know how to contact. I noticed Kathy said "Contact us at this email" but I do not see an email. Thanks if you can repost!

  • marion johnston
    February 12, 2013 - 09:21

    GREAT IDEA I wish you delivered in ont.I'm orginally from s'side now living in kingston ont.keep up the great work.I knew a David Green years ago .

  • Gloria Askew
    February 12, 2013 - 09:16

    I am a very impressed customer of these excellent foods. Kathy and Mark are to be commended for staying with QUALITY food in a time when we are being forced, in groceries stores, to purchase chemically sprayed foods/artificial sugars/GM foods etc. Thank you Kathy and Mark for your desire to offer the public such integrity and quality. They understand the importance of the phrase "Let Food by your medicine and your medicine be your food" Hippocrates.(Father of all Medicine). They also understand the Phrase "Eat To Save Your Life"

    • james
      February 13, 2013 - 10:17

      I agree Kathy and Brian have done an A+ job, excellent quality, price and service. Thanks

  • Jakolin
    February 12, 2013 - 07:37

    Hello, this sounds like a wonderful idea! Does anyone know how to get ahold of the farm to get me on that list? Thanks!

    • kathy
      February 12, 2013 - 12:43

      Contact us at this email and I can give you the info for the veggie boxes

  • Wendy
    February 11, 2013 - 19:31

    The best way to get your veggies! I started doing the veggie box program last year with Kathy and it's top quality. My kids love knowing who "OUR" farmers. They taste better and we feel more confident feeding our family organic locally grow veggies. Thank you Crystal Green Farms!