The first thing that struck us about our visit to Agriberry farm was their BRANDING. Anne greeted us from the pack shed in a purple apron that proudly sported the Agriberry logo and raspberry dangly earrings. In the driveway was a purple van and practically everyone we met during our tour was wearing at least one purple item of clothing (ok, that might be an exaggeration). Anne greeted us from the pack shed with a friendly smile and a wave to come on in and see where the magic happens! She openly shared the farm’s mission and values alongside their many struggles as a small family farm trying to make it work. We were gladly sent off with a pack of the best blueberries I have EVER tasted and offered a sample of every different variety of berry we could find – or maybe that was just us feeling the urge to pluck another taster for our “research”. We are so excited to be working with Agriberry Farm and supporting their mission in whatever ways we can. You can be certain that every time you receive a pint of berries in your weekly share, they were grown with love by the Geyer Family and most likely pulled from the bush by one of Anne’s “Young Workers”.
Agriberry was founded in 2008 by Anne and Chuck Geyer. Anne and Chuck met while working at the University of Maryland’s Horticultural Research Farm on a USDA berry production study. After getting married in 1982 they moved to Virginia to work on a 60-acre berry farm. In 2008, 25 years later, they found themselves the awardees of a USDA Specialty Crop Grant enabling them to lease their own piece of land and start a berry farm that also had a mission to develop young farmers.
The farm started out selling an innovative “all fruit” CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share that was sold primarily to the Richmond, VA market, one of the nation’s only fruit and berry CSAs. What started as a 9-week pilot, quickly evolved into a 20-week CSA program with more than 500 members.
The Geyers also work collaboratively with other local specialty crop farmers which enables them to service a large number of customers with additional fruit from their partner farms. In 2011 they were able to purchase their own 25 acres of land on Hanover’s scenic River Road. They now grow an assortment of fruits and berries including red, black and purple raspberries, blackberries, peaches, nectarines, plums and cherries. The property is now outfitted with a packing shed with freezer and refrigeration capability and a commercial kitchen for the preparation of a variety of value-added products.
Outside of family members, the farm employs more than a dozen workers that are enthusiastic to be part of “Team Agriberry”. During the summer months the rows are filled with area youth participating in the “Young Worker Training Program”, with as many as 50 youth employed through the summer months.
Anne and Chuck consider their CSA to be the base that allows them to build farmer-to-farmer relationships as well as to run a summer-long Young Worker Training Program, which works with youth to provide work experience, hands-on agricultural experience and a deeper appreciation for where their food comes from.
Anne and Chuck are proudly committed to raising healthy and sustainably grown food and to telling the truth about the food they provide. The following paragraph from the Agriberry website sums up their philosophy quite well:
“As life-long farmers, the Geyers strive to raise healthy, sustainably grown food. As business owners, they work to craft lasting relationships that help nourish their community, other family-owned specialty farms, and the evolving local food networks. As parents, they hope to create a legacy of value for their children and as educators and community members they feel a special mission to share their belief in farming as a career and lifestyle.”
20-week Fruit-Only CSAs in Richmond, Annapolis, Northern Neck and Williamsburg.
- 11 Farmers Markets in the Richmond area (throughout the week)
- Charlottesville City Market (Saturday)
- Spotsylvania Farmers Market (Saturday)
- Williamsburg Farmers Market (Saturday)
- Baltimore Farmers Market & Bazaar (Sunday)
- Annapolis FRESHFARM Market (Sunday)
- Local Food Hub in Charlottesville, VA (Non-Profit)
Plus, don’t forget that you can find a variety of Agriberry products in your weekly share of local fruits and veggies from 4P Foods!
- Snead’s Asparagus Farm in Fredricksburg, VA
- Chesterfield Berry Farm in Mosely, VA
- Calvert Farm in Rising Sun, MD (USDA Certified Organic)
- Not USDA Certified Organic, but they use “organic” practices in the way they grow their fruit
- Use highly targeted Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques
- All field management practices reflect consideration for the safety of customers, workers, plants, pollinators and resident wildlife
- All practices meet or exceed Extension Service guidelines for safety
For more information on Agriberry Farm please visit their (very informative) WEBSITE.