Endless Summer Harvest was one of the stops during the most recent VALOR seminar. Owner and operator Mary Ellen Taylor treated the VALOR fellows to a tour of her hydroponic greenhouse operation, as well as a dinner fresh from her “fields” in Loudoun County.
“Great chefs know that good food comes from farms.”
– Mary Ellen Taylor
About Endless Summer Harvest
ESH’s 12,000 square feet of hydroponic greenhouse space produces the equivalent of twelve acres of conventional production. It is a successful example of how farming can be adapted to an environment with various pressures. For example, the cool season crops she produces are available year round without regard for the unpredictable weather, the margin allows her to pay skilled employees to work in the greenhouse for attractive wages (reducing turnover and ensuring quality work), and access to a major metropolitan area has allowed her to position her products at the top of the market. ESH products are sold to upscale restaurants, direct to consumers through local farmers markets, and are available at select grocery stores.
Why Does it Work?
While much of the success of the business is due to the availability of high quality, unique products, Mary Ellen’s influence should not go unnoticed. Her enthusiasm is contagious and it is evident that she loves working with people. She shared that customers get “to see Mary Ellen” every week, year round at the farmers markets where she retails. They not only develop an affinity for the product, but also for the producer. A quote on her website says “the future of farming here and now in Loudoun County”. While hydroponic production will undoubtedly be a part of the food production puzzle going forward, the future of farming will require more interaction (read relationships) between farmers and customers. People like Mary Ellen have seen the future – what role will you play?