The Northeast region with nearly 25 percent of the U.S. population and purchasing power in 1983 is a deficit region in both processing and fresh market vegetable crops. This study explores the underlying factors in the long post-World War II decline in Northeastern vegetable production. It evaluates the economic viability of small-scale, family operated vegetable farms with emphasis on Maryland and the Baltimore-Washington Wholesale Market outlet near Jessup, Maryland.
Preliminary results of our study indicate that, under certain conditions, small-scale family farms can grow and commercially market fresh-market vegetables at competitive prices, and generate healthy cash flows. The optimum mix of crops would include up to three, non-competing crop sequences, with four different vegetable crops including spinach, snap beans, tomatoes and broccoli. Family (owner-operator) labor was found to be a major resource constraint on volume of vegetables marketed, especially tomatoes. Potentials for future expansion in selected crops seem to exist with improved technology and better management.