Pleasant Valley Farm has about 40 family members working on a daily basis.
So, when the Owen family was named the Crawford County farm family of the year for 2018, Tim Owen would point out it’s not just about his immediate family.
“We consider all of our employees as extended family,” Owen said. “Without their hard work and dedication, we would not be where we are today.”
The farm provides flowers mostly for wholesale for the big-box retailers like Lowe’s.
It has grown from about an acre of greenhouses to more than 13 acres (an acre is about the size of a football field) once the current building phase is completed.
“It’ll have just about all the latest technology in place that we can afford,” Owen said. “We’ll be able to control the temperature, watering and even how much sunlight is needed all from a computer. They’ll even have it so I can even control it from my phone. It’ll beat having to come out here in the evening to manually cover plants which don’t need a lot of sunlight and uncovering them in the morning.”
Tim Owen’s son, Josh, is managing the new construction and joined the farming operation back in October 2017. Josh is a graduate of the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville.
“Josh has the drive, desire, and skills to help the farm by increasing productivity and sales through technology as well as strengthening the company culture,” said Tim Owen. “He has a passion for Christian mission work overseas and plans to travel for mission work during the off-season when possible.”
For Tim Owen, increasing productivity is one of the keys to sustaining and growing Pleasant Valley Farms. Whether it is recycling the water runoffs back into the irrigation system, or adding equipment to automate the planting process “everything we do is to help productivity and keeping our costs down.”
The farm also gets an assist from other immediate family members like Laura Anderson, Owen’s second daughter, who joined the business in 2014 and does the production planning, purchasing, inventory tracking, and availabilities.
His 2-year-old grandson, Caleb, helps with the cows, giving high-fives to the employees, and assisting his mom in the greenhouses.
His wife, Beth, has been with him from the beginning. While neither are from the Van Buren area, Beth heralds from nearby Clarksville and both settled in Van Buren back in 1990 and started his own business a couple of years later.
Tim Owen inherited a love for plants from his mother and aunt and his first job in the industry was an entry-level position at a greenhouse in Memphis, Tenn., during college. He eventually became a grower/manager within the greenhouse and later took the same job at a local greenhouse in Van Buren.
Beth Owen serves as the vice president of the company and is in charge of all the in-house accounting and human resources.
The farm is already looking at growing in the next five to 10 years as additional drainage is already put in place. “To help us get ready to do more business.”
The operation has always operated wholesale to other companies, but as consolidation has absorbed some business, the Owen family is continuing to get themselves ready to stay competitive with the companies still remaining.
“It’s one of the largest greenhouses in the state and it is next to one of the other largest greenhouses, Parks Brothers Farms,” said Matt Fryer, the Crawford County Extension agent for agriculture. “It’s quite remarkable for this area to have these greenhouses here.”