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Genesee County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan

Genesee County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan

APPENDIX C: AGRICULTURAL

APPENDIX C: AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT CASE STUDY SUMMARIES Virginia’s Shipping Point Farmers’ Market System: Northern Neck Farmers’ Market & Northern Neck Vegetable Growers Association The Northern Neck Farmers Market is a packing shipping facility for produce located in the northern neck peninsula of Virginia. It is operated under the direction of the Northern Neck Vegetable Growers Association, a nonprofit, 501 C-3 corporation. The facility is approximately 60,000 sq. ft. under roof with 20,000 sq. ft. of cold storage. Currently there is a hydro cooler on site that can handle a trailer load of sweet corn at a time along with grading and packing lines. The facility operates year round and during the 1999 calendar year approximately 3,000 acres of produce from 31 producers moved through the facility. The markets high volume products are corn, peppers, squash and cucumbers. Other products include cantaloupes, eggplant, greens, broccoli and tomatoes The Board of Directors is charged with the duties of overseeing the market operations and safeguarding the interests of the producers of the region, both those served and to a certain degree, those not participating in the market. The northern neck peninsula of Virginia has traditionally been a primary producer of corn, soybeans and livestock. With the desire of the region to maintain a viable agricultural industry and rural way of life, producers have diversified their production and marketing capabilities to increase cash flow and economic stability. As the food industry has continued to consolidate, doors have continued to close in the faces of small, local producers. The days of having locally owned and controlled grocery stores to which small vegetable producers can sell their produce are numbered if not gone. Market access continues to be an issue facing many commodities and vegetables are no exception. Large food chains prefer and even demand load lots of produce delivered to their docks to their specifications and at their request. Fortunately, the Northern Neck Vegetable Growers Association realized this trend and placed this market, and the producers who support it, in a position to respond to this trend and, through cooperation, remain competitive in this ever tightening market. The Northern Neck Vegetable Growers Association came into being in 1989. There are approximately 31 grower members with a 9 member Board of Directors. The major drive/influence in the creation of this association was the need for collective purchasing, marketing and pooling of product, which is necessary for meeting the volume requirements of the major buyers. Another major aspect was the need to have an organization to serve as an advocate for the growers and the vegetable industry. The Northern Neck Vegetable Growers Association has achieved this notoriety by receiving the “Governors Marketer Award for 1999.” The Northern Neck Farmers Market had an approximate revenue of $8,324,517 in 1999. 97% was wholesale and 3% was retail. 1,236,229 boxes or crates and 3969 bins of 31 Copyright©, 2000: Agricultural & Community Development Services, Inc, Columbia MD 12

APPENDIX C: AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT CASE STUDY SUMMARIES different products moved through the market in 1999 – approximately 1,000 trailer loads - 80% from Virginia and 20% from North Carolina and Maryland. Parker Farms provides the critical mass necessary for the market to be competitive and to meet the demands of the buyers. The coordination of this volume of business could not have been accomplished without the professional services of a marketing entity such as Parker Farms. The sales and management staff continues to provide a valuable service to local producers and a link to over 200 chain store buyers and purveyors of vegetable products along the east coast and Midwest. Contacts: Susan Simpson Virginia Farmers’ Market Board (804) 786-2112 Gary Allensworth, Chairman Northern Neck Vegetable Growers Association (540) 653-7258 Copyright©, 2000: Agricultural & Community Development Services, Inc, Columbia MD 13

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