Dan Graiff Farms sees good supplies ahead of New Jersey produce
Dan Graiff Farms was already harvesting a number of New Jersey vegetables the first week in May and was anticipating good supplies going forward, according to the owner of the company.
“We dealt with some wind, but overall the weather wasn’t bad at all. We were able to get stuff planted and out of the ground. We’re already harvesting stuff, so we’re happy about that,” Jamie Graiff told The Produce News. “Right now it looks like we’re on track to have a good supply of product. We’ve been harvesting cilantro and methi, we had some winter parsley that we harvested as well as some bunched arugula. They’re the main items that we’ve started already. And we have some other items — some swiss chard, some kale — coming on probably within the next few weeks.”
Looking toward the rest of May and into the summer, “Our first planting of tomatoes is already in and growing. We’ll have another planting going in probably within the next couple of weeks,” he said. “Our first basil is in the ground; that’ll be coming on in June. And hopefully tomatoes will start harvesting the last week in June, ready for the Fourth of July. So things seem to be on schedule.”
The main crops “are all the baby leaf products,” he noted. “The arugula, the spinach, the spring mix, the kales and the onions that we bring in. But this year, my nephew, Scott, is definitely increasing acreage. We made some new alliances with some local customers that we have that should be supplying some local chains.”
He added, “As long as the weather stays well and the labor force stays somewhat decent, we look to have a busy year.”
Dan Graiff Farms, which was founded in 1980, had been about 75 foodservice and 25 percent retail before the pandemic hit. “Now we’re probably looking where we’re at 60-40” in terms of volume, he noted. But as the pandemic was easing, as more and more people became vaccinated and restaurants started to re-open, “foodservice is starting to regain its volume,” noted Graiff.
In that regard, the company executive said, “We’re trying to keep as diverse as possible. On the growing end of it, we’re getting into a lot more hand-harvest product. This is the first year we have the H2A program. We have guys who came in just because of the shortage of labor that everybody’s feeling. So we’re looking to go back to a lot more of the hand-harvest products that we feel would be a benefit to our business just for the diversity of product. This year it looks like we’re going to be a lot heavier volume in the hand-harvest side.”
Last year the company started a logistics company called Graiff Logistics LLC. “We have two straight jobs on the road, and we have the one tractor-trailer on the road. We’re hauling our own staff little by little,” he said. “We’ve been picking up some outside freight with that company as well.”
In addition to the company owner, Scott Graiff is the farm production manager. “We have Kyle Barile, who is underneath Scott for the production side,” said Jamie Graiff. “And with me in the office is D.J. Graiff, who is working with sales and inside production.”