Port Farms wasn’t always the tourist destination that it is today. The farm began 126 years ago in 1897 when Eston and Eva Port purchased the land to raise dairy cows and grow potatoes. The farm has continued to grow and evolve through the years. In the late 80’s and 90’s Jerry Port and his father began growing soybeans, wheat, corn and oats. He then began a soybean roasting business to provide feed for dairy cows throughout Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Maryland and Michigan.  

Once the dairy market began to slow down, Jerry and his wife Kelly began expanding the business to sell Christmas trees. Since trees take seven to nine years to grow, they opened to the public and began selling pumpkins. The farm eventually became a learning center offering school tours and information on where our food comes from.  

The farm may not look exactly how it did in 1897, but it is still a working farm today. Fourth generation farm owners Kelly and Jerry still run and operate the farm, as well as their daughter Casey. On top of still being an educational destination for schools, the farm is now open to the public August through December offering flower picking, summer and fall festivals, activities, events, pumpkins, Christmas trees, as well as being a wedding and event venue. Many people visit the farm to enjoy the fun activities but may not realize how much work is still going on. Here’s a behind the scenes chat with Farmer Jerry: 

What is no-till farming and why does Port Farms use this method. Is there a benefit to this method? 

Also known as “zero tillage” farming, this planting process does not disturb the soil with standard tilling. Overall, it’s better for the environment because it doesn’t release as much carbon into the air as tilling up the land does. It also helps with erosion and increasing crop yields. You can check out our video that we have explaining a little more about this process.  

What crops are still grown on the farm? 

We grow over 30 varieties of gourds, pumpkins and squash. A few years ago, the farm began growing zinnias and sunflowers for our U-Pick flower fields. We also grow 4 different varieties of trees. Our plan is to hopefully begin growing hops in the future.   

When are your planting seasons? 

Our planting season begins in April with Christmas trees. We then move into pumpkins, squash and gourds at the end of May and early June. Our flowers get planted three different times during this time as well.  

Do you sell your crops locally or on the farm? 

Today we sell our pumpkins, gourds, squash, and Christmas trees at the farm during our fall and Christmas seasons. We also sell the flowers in our U-Pick fields.

What kind of planning goes into getting the crops planted on time? 

There is a lot of research that goes into what we plant. Researching maturity dates gives us a better idea of when we should plant certain crops so that they can be ready when we open to the public. We select seeds during the winter based on what can grow in this area. We must also make sure the soil’s nutritional needs are adequate for the crop we are growing. If it isn’t, we apply lime, fertilizer, etc., which can sometimes take a couple years to get right.