Business

Everything grows at Family Farm

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by MARK ST.J. COUHIG
Sequim Gazette

Back in 2008 the Mustitch family said they wanted to sell The Family Farm, their just-shy-of-5-acres operation on Old Olympic Highway.

 

But the Mustitches also said they weren’t in any hurry. They would continue to grow the operation until they found the right buyer.

 

So far, so good.

 

This year alone they’ve added four new 80-foot greenhouses, vastly expanding their capacity to grow plants, including corn and certain types of flowers, that require a warm climate and a long growing season.

 

They’ve also added a preparation center where the veggies and flowers are readied for market.

 

The farm is appropriately named. The staff consists of owners Wayne and Julie Mustitch, Julie’s mom and dad, and 22-year-old Matt Mustitch, Wayne and Julie’s son.

 

In 2008, Wayne and Julie said they had planned to leave the farm in Matt’s hands, but Matt had other plans.

 

Wayne explained to the Gazette that Matt was more interested in computers.

 

Since then Matt has gotten more involved. He’s now the marketing manager for the operation, bringing his youthful energy and computer skills to the task at hand.

Growing a business

The company derives its income from a number of sources, beginning with the farmers markets held each weekend in Sequim and Port Angeles. Julie sells her fabulous bouquets there at a great price: just $7 for a large grouping. For another two bucks she throws in the vase.

 

Julie also produces flower arrangements for special occasions, including weddings.

 

The Mustitches also maintain a store at the farm, 3931 Old Olympic Highway, selling Julie’s bouquets, fresh veggies and, through spring, flowering hanging baskets.

 

The farm’s famous dahlias are also an important cash crop. The family makes purchasing dahlias “as easy and convenient as possible,” Matt said. First, the customer chooses the dahlia. At the end of the season, the family digs up the tubers and stores them safely and in the best conditions to ensure their health.

 

Come spring, the customer picks up his purchase. Or the family can ship the tubers.

Going online

Among Matt’s contributions is a new website, which he built with the help of his friend, Zach Taiji.

Matt also has cranked up a social media marketing effort utilizing both Facebook and Twitter.

 

It’s all strategic, he said. Currently the farm’s customers are mostly those who are 40 and older. Matt wants to tap into the younger crowd and says social marketing is the ticket.

 

So far, it’s working. More than 12,000 pairs of eyeballs have viewed online information about the farm, which has now been re-christened The Family Farm Market.

 

The website, which is both attractive and easy to navigate, provides a bumper crop of information on the farm, including the seasonal availability of fruit and veggies.

 

In addition to expanding the farm’s marketing effort, Matt also is helping the family diversify the farm’s products. The farm has long produced blackberries and strawberries; now they’re growing blueberries as well.

 

All of the farm’s veggies are produced without the use of chemicals or pesticides.

 

Wayne, now happily replaced as spokesman for the operation, seems pleased by Matt’s growing involvement.

 

He admits that Matt, who grew up on the farm, has more expertise than he had when he and Julie purchased the farm.

 

Wayne had previously enjoyed a career as a produce manager. Starting up a farm was “all trial and error,” he laughed.

 

Farming is still incredibly hard work, Matt admitted. Modern times haven’t changed that.

 

But high tech can help in the marketing process. That’s where Matt’s expertise comes in very, very handy.

See www.thefamilyfarmmarket.com.

 


Reach Mark Couhig at mcouhig@sequimgazette.com.

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