Father and son team John and Ryan Ploch combine generations of know-how, modern farming practices, and strong family values – making Ploch Farms in Vineland, New Jersey a cornerstone of the wholesale market in the region. In fact, according to John, the family’s reputation often precedes them: “A lot of business is word of mouth and the fact that we’ve been here for so many years. We’ve developed a reputation. A lot goes with the name.”
“Our farm history goes back to the 1800s with great grandfather who moved from Germany to Northern New Jersey and started a dairy farm. In 1916 they converted over to vegetables. So we’ve been growing vegetables since 1916. We were only a 9 acre farm back then,” remembers John Ploch. A growing family eventually forced the family to expand in unexpected ways, he explains. “We had to sell out. It was a big family and we had to sell out so everyone could get their share of the farm. So my father and my uncle traveled down here to Vineland and started the farm that we bought in 1973. Ever since then we’ve been adding more acres per year.” Today, John and Ryan farm about 250 acres, between the main farm and rented property. They grow a wide variety of vegetables but are particularly known for their herbs and leafy greens.
The farming bug starts early in the Ploch family: “I started full time on the farm when I was 12. Dad started earlier than that,” says Ryan. “I remember going out with my Grandfather and my two uncles and my dad and harvesting in the field at a young age.” Working with his family, Ryan learned to focus on quality control: “I think quality means freshness so we try and stay on top of our inventory. Cut the right product at the right time.” This mindset has made Ploch Farms a key partner in Red Tomato’s pilot project with Kings Food Markets branded, Local Fresh 24/7 where product is delivered from farms in Southern New Jersey to market shelves within 24 hours.
Ultimately, for John and Ryan working together towards their shared vision for the farm is the most exciting part of their day. Ryan puts it simply: “I like to get up and go to work with my dad every day.” When John reflects on working together and what Ryan brings to the farm, he doesn’t skimp. “I love it. I wouldn’t’ be here if he wasn’t. Ryan brings all the knowledge. He went to college, got a degree in agriculture, and applied all that to the farm.”