Farm Profile: Green Meadow Farm

“Someone once said, ‘If you do what you like, you’ll never work a day in your life,’” muses Green Meadow Farm’s Glenn Brendle. “But the key is to make what you like pay the way. I liked to garden, but it wasn’t clear that I was going to be able make it work well enough to raise a family.”

Brendle grew up on a farm, but in the ’70s, he found himself stuck in an office job he didn’t like. At the time, he had an Amish neighbor in Gap, PA (Lancaster County), who was traveling long distances to sell his goods, putting a strain on him and his business. Brendle mentioned to him that it might be easier to sell in Philadephia at the Reading Terminal Market, and eventually convinced him to take a ride into the city to check it out. “David O’Neil had just started to revamp the Market, and they were looking for vendors,” recalls Brendle. “It was one of those Eureka! moments.”

Eventually, Brendle began growing some things for that neighbor’s stall. A few years later, he noticed chefs coming to the Market to buy their produce. He had a hand cart, so he started delivering to a few restaurants. That business grew, and eventually he got himself a truck.

These days, Brendle sources 70 to 80 local restaurants. He also provides produce to the Fair Food Farmstand, Almanac Market and Green Aisle Grocery. “I try to grow the most unusual things, or the things that take the most effort,” he explains, “because we have experience doing that sort of thing. The rest of the stuff—bell peppers, sweet corn, zucchini—I contract out to Amish farmers. Everyone here is looking for another income source because dairy is so bad, and the price for field crops is terrible.”
Brendle has a particular thing for alliums—leeks, shallots and cipollini onions. Green Meadow also grows a rainbow of colored beets and carrots.

This year, he’s trying peanuts. “I thought it might be fun to have raw peanuts to sell [at the Fair Food Farmstand],” he says. “It’s a fun thing for families to do. My kids used to love it. We would bring them in a couple handfuls at a time and roast them in the oven, on a pan, until they start to smell—and then you can’t keep your hands off them.”

The key to Green Meadow’s success has always been freshness. “We pick everything Wednesday, and deliver on Thursday,” explains Brendle. “So, everything people buy is picked and brought to them within 24 hours. And that makes a huge difference. I tell people, ‘If you want it any fresher, you have to grow it yourself.’ And now some of them are taking me at my word, starting little roof gardens.”

glennbrendle.com, 717-442-5222