Wiers Farms adds to packinghouse space
Wiers Farms Inc., now a fifth-generation company, added 20,000 square feet of temperature-controlled space to its packinghouse, said Ben Wiers, president of the Willard, Ohio-based company. That gives it the versatility to handle the special needs of certain customers.
Wiers said the company is highly integrated and controls all aspects of production.
“It is an exciting thing to see our family business continue on into the future in a successful way,” he said.
Even with some wet weather delays, Wiers said the supplier was fairly current with its planting schedules.
“We’re continuing to get the product in the field and it looks relatively good considering the fact that it’s been on the wet side,” he said.
The company, founded in 1896, does Eastern and Western vegetables, offering about 40 varieties of vegetables in total. Located in north central Ohio, the farm is 80 minutes or so from Cleveland, Toledo and Columbus.
The farm’s wide range of soil types allow it to grow everything from green onions, lettuce, dill, cilantro and radishes to bell peppers, cucumbers, yellow squash and a multitude of other crops, Wiers said.
Peak volume usually comes in August and September. The firm also farms in Florida’s Sarasota and Bradenton regions.
Acreage is stable this year for the farm at about 3,000 acres.
Food safety is a priority for the company, as well.
“We have a constant focus on food safety,” he said.
“You have to be able to give your customers a product that they are assured goes through every level of food safety,” he said.
“Our food safety team is very focused; we can provide that to our customers,” he said.
While temperatures have been on the cool side, Wiers reported good quality on the produce that was growing.
“Even with the challenges, we have been able to manage through the rain events,” he said, noting that the farm has fields in a 30 mile radius.
Wiers Farms is using the H-2A guest agricultural labor program this year to help supply adequate farm labor.
The H-2A workers provide about 80% of the labor required, he estimated, with 20% provided locally.
“We are excited about the (H-2A) labor force and the folks that are here are performing well,” he said.
“A secure labor force is going to be key going into the future,” he said.
Costs are higher with the H-2A program, however.
“As long as we can manage through that side of that, with support from our customer base, I see a strong future in north central Ohio,” he said.