Family turning field into country market

July 27, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

ZULLINGER, Pa. - For a dairy farmer, Jeffrey R. Martin could not be in a worse situation.

He has six children - all girls, no boys.

Martin, 36, and his wife, Anita, have run a farm on Prices Church Road for 14 years.

"There's no use building a dairy farm when all you have is girls," Martin said. "I had to figure something out that girls enjoy doing."

That something is a 128-acre tract of farmland at 4392 Buchanan Trail East. Right now, the front of the property is a couple of acres of raw earth that Martin is moving around with a bulldozer. The back sections are cropland and will stay that way.


By next spring, the land along the highway will be Countryside Flowers and Mulch, a greenhouse and nursery business. Martin will sell flowers, vegetables and mulch on the wholesale and retail markets. Other products will come as the business grows, he said.

It will be a family operation.

The business will be modeled after Sunny Meadows, a similar business owned by Martin's brother-in-law, Ethan Weber, at 7437 Sharpsburg Pike north of Sharpsburg.

Martin said Weber is helping him learn the business.

"He's giving me advice," he said.

"He's copying me," Weber said, "but that's all right."

Martin is preparing the pad for a 44-by-117-foot greenhouse, a used frame building that will be covered with plastic.

The business, which will be served by public water and sewer, will have an entrance on Buchanan Trail East.

Gerald L. Zeigler, code enforcement officer for Washington Township, said Martin will have to drill through a lot of limestone to reach a point where the lines enter his property.

Future plans call for a home on the land that Martin will build for his family.

Sunny Meadows also is a family-owned business.

It's shared by Weber, 25; his wife, Janel, who is Martin's sister; Weber's brother, Jason; and his wife, Fern.

They started the business four years ago.

Sunnyside Meadows sells vegetables, trees and shrubs and Amish-made lawn furniture and play sets. Martin said his inventory will include many of the same products.

Martin said he plans to open the business in the spring.

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