Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, October 22, 1994, Image 34

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    82-Lancaster Farming, Saturday, October 22, 1994
Sweet Meadow Greenhouse Meets Specialty Needs
Cumberland Co. Correspondent
(Cumberland Co.) - Patti and
Corey Noggle have watched their
business grow along with their
plants at Noggle’s Sweet Meadow
Greenhouses near Mechanicsburg.
Even though the Noggle’s can’t
offer the variety or the volume of
plants offered by the bigger nurs
eries around, they can offer a per
sonal touch that’s hard to find
these days.
“We can deal with details,” Patti
The Noggles’ business actually
was bom long before they bought
their first used greenhouse in 1982.
Patti said her interest in horticul
ture first was sparked when she was
a 4-H member in Cumberland
County. She took horticulture pro
jects in her local club and also par
ticipated in flower judging competi
tions at the local, state, and national
During her years of judging, she
became a state champion.
Her interest in horticulture car
ried on into her college years. Both
she and Corey graduated from Penn
State University, where they
majored in horticulture.
Their greenhouse business
began when Patti bought her first
greenhouse from a Lancaster firm
that was going out of business. That
was when she first learned that she
had a lot to learn about the green
house business, Patti said.
“We took it down and it looked
like all the pieces were the same, so
we threw everything together,” Patti
said. “But when we got it home and
started putting it up it was a differ
ent story. Everything did have a
specific place and we had to sepa-
Tilling The Soil Helps Prisoners And Community
Bradford Co. Correspondent
TROY (Bradford County)
Not all the inmates in the Bradford
County Correctional Facility are
idly biding their time. Some are
helping repay their debt to society
through an innovative gardening
project sponsored by the
Towanda-Wysox Kiwanis Club,
the Bradford-Sullivan Farm
Bureau, and various county
The project, dubbed the Brad
ford County Prison Harvest, incor
porated the use of donated seeds,
plants, and tools from area nurse
ries and businesses, input from the
Penn State Cooperative Extension
of Bradford County, approval
from county officials and hard
work from area farmers, and
inmates. The Northern Tier Career
center also donated a small shed
for tool storage that was trucked to
the site by SPE, Inc., a local John
Deere dealer.
Produce from the one-acre plot
is divided among the area food
“I read about this" said Frank
Bertrand, coordinator for the pro
ject. “A county jail did this in New
York state.”
The garden was located on a
piece of land owned by the county,
but rented by a local farmer.
“This spring, I went out and
talked to the farmer who rents the
land from the county," said Ber
trand. “He agreed to donate the
land. Another farmer agreed to
plow it up, and in the meantime, I
was coordinating the project with
the sheriff, Steve Evans, and the
jail warden, Dale Brown.”
Once everything was in place,
the project only needed willing
hands to till the soil/
Patti Moggie showing some of her favorite colors in this field of mums.
rate everything.”
“It was quite a project,” she said.
The Noggles since have added
two greenhouses, one in 1988 and
one last spring. Patti started the
business herself, but Corey joined
her in it full time about three
years ago.
Patti said she started the business
by supplying mostly annuals, hang
ing baskets, and a few perennials. A
large part of her business consisted
of wholesaling to start, she said.
Two inmates were assigned to
the project. With donated seeds
and plants, they planted potatoes,
cucumbers, squash, tomatoes,
com, peppers, and beans.
Inmates are selected for work
projects based on the' length of
time they will serve and the nature
of their legal charges. Their beha
vior while they are incarcerated is
also taken into consideration.
After they are selected, their appli
cations are submitted to the sen
tencing judge. If it is approved, the
prisoners are released to work in
various areas.
Besides the gardening project,
prisoners work with the Northern
Tier Solid Waste Authority’s recy
cling program and with township
crews to help with stream rebuild
ing or other tasks.
In essence, prisoners are
released to work on the various
projects and must report back at a
designated time.
Although the project sounds like
an idea that will benefit everyone,
there are some problems to work
‘The biggest problem we had
was that we got a late start It was
the second week of June before we
really got started. The other thing
that probably created a problem
was that I underestimated the man
power needed. We probably
should have had more manpower
at planting time and worked down
from there,” said Warden Brown.
Another problem, or potential
problem, is the risk of the prisoners
not coming back to the facility.
“When doing a project like this,
the questions that come to mind
initially are issues of security. Bas
ically that’s the biggest concern as
far as I’m concerned,” said the
However, over the years, Patti
said their business has grown to
meet the different needs of its
wholesale customers and the regular
consumer as well.
They have increased the selec
tion of their annuals and make a
special effort to offer annuals that
you won’t find in many other
Patti said they also try to offer
100 really reliable perennials,
because they know they can’t com
“Essentially we have inmates
who are working there unsuper
vised for a period of time. There
have been a couple of problems
that have come up in the past when
inmates have gone to the worksite
and failed to come back. We had a
situation this summer where an
inmate working at the landfill pro
ject just left the worksite. That
affected this program (garden)
because we had to shut down our
release programs for a period of
time until the person was
‘The other problem with a coun
ty facility is generally people who
are good candidates for a release
program are here on a short-term
basis, so we have kind of a high
turnover in terms of inmate labor
and that makes it hard to maintain
Yet another blow to this year’s
harvest was the wet weather. At
one time this summer, the plot was
completely under water and was
often too wet to work in.
All the difficulties added up to a
tiny harvest for the workers. The
potatoes didn’t come up at all, the
corn, although tall, didn’t develop
ears, and numbers of cucumbers
and squash were small.
‘The problem was getting a
quantity of stuff that would make it
worthwhile to deliver. We had
squash that would come on sporad
ically and some other things," said
In spite of the difficulties
encountered, plans are already in
place to try again next year.
pete with the big nurseries when it
comes to sheer volume. They also
offer a solid selection of herbs and
Heirloom vegetables are becom
ing a big part of their operation too,
Patti said.
When fall comes, she said, mums
become a cornerstone at Noggles.
This year, Patti said, they grew
9,000 mums of 82 varieties.
- “We offer more varieties than the
larger nurseries and as a wholesaler
“I look at this year as a real
learning experience,” said Brown.
“We have to look at it and say this
is what we had, these were the
problems we had. It was not an
overwhelming success this year,
but I think the idea is still real
good. We’ll take what we learned
this year and try again next year.”
The first step will be to move the
garden to a drier place. Hopefully
with better conditions and more
produce, the effort can benefit the
600-1000 neeify families in the
county through the local food
“Donating the food to the local
food pantries was what I saw as the
the squash In the garden, which was a cooperative effort
between area businesses, agencies and inmates. Even
though wet weather put a damper on this year's project,
plans are already being made to try again next year.
we can take care of small details for
our customers,” Patti said. “Some of
our customers might want 25 plants
with as many varieties as possible or
another customer might want 50
plants with the majority of the colors
being yellow. We can do that.”
All that takes a lot of hard work.
They grow all their plants in the
three greenhouses under 10,000 feet
of plastic and have set aside half an
acre with drip irrigation for the
“We have about two months
where we don’t have a lot of green
house work, but we need that time
for paperwork, researching plants
for next season, and ordering every
thing," Patti said.
Patti and Corey are constantly
learning about new growing tech
niques and new plants. They do a lot
of research during the winter, go to
Longwood Gardens, and a variety of
gardening shows to see if they can
pick up a few new tips.
“We are constantly doing our
own research here at our own green
houses, finding out what does well
in our climate, if a plant is disease
resistant, if it produces well and so
on and so forth,” Patti said.
Their work also carries over into
the lives of their two children,
Tristan, age 5, and Chelsea, age 9.
The childrens’ classes from
school come out to the greenhouses
every year and Patty has helped
teachers with projects relating to
plant science. She said she feels that
helping people learn about the envi
ronment is very important.
Patti said that every year, she and
her husband leant something new
that helps them survive against their
larger competitors.
“You can get your share, but you
have to do a good job,” she said.
biggest plus. It could give the
inmates a sense of giving some
thing back. That’s a real positive
thing. We really had an over
whelming response to the idea,”
said Warden Brown.
The inmates want something to
do with their time. The project pro
vided them with something to do
and a sense of accomplishment.”
Added Bertrand, “I think this
gives these guys something to do
other than sit around in jail all day.
We had land that was not put to its
best use and had people sitting idly
across the highway...and why not
help the needy in the community.”