Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association
An Association of Commercial Vegetable, Potato and Berry Growers
Highlights from the 2015 “Are You Crazy?” Retail Farm Market Tour
Brian Moyer, Penn State Extension
More than 40 retail farm marketers attended the 2015 “Are You Crazy” bus tour to southcentral PA, West Virginia, and Loudoun County Virginia. This year’s tour was ambitious with nine stops within two days.
The Penn State Extension Direct Marketing team carefully choose this year’s stops which featured everything from large agritourism and retail to a small CSA (community supported agriculture) looking to expand their pickup location to include more retail purchases. A majority of our stops focused on best use of retail space. Some markets were looking to expand or rebuild their markets while others occupied a fairly recently built building and shared their thought process behind the construction and layout. All registrants received a market bag filled with educational materials, a clip board for taking notes, sponsor info and catalogue, and a tour book with descriptions and information for each one of our stops.
Our first stop, Windy Knoll Farm Market & Creamery, is based in Chambersburg, PA on the location of the family dairy farm and specializes in homemade ice cream and prepared foods. They talked about how creating a quality product draws customers to their out-of-the-way location.
Taylor’s Farm Market is located in a market building formally run by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. The Taylors operate a 1350 acre farm and are fairly new to retail farm markets and were quiet happy to share what they are working on and eagerly looking for any suggestions the group was willing to share to improve their market.
Our tour group enjoyed lunch at Orr’s Farm Market in Martinsburg, WV. After twenty years, Orr’s Market uses every inch of available space prompting discussions within the family about creating a new market to better serve their community.
Marker-Miller Orchards in Winchester, VA has been producing apples since the 1930’s today they produce a variety of fruits and vegetables on 225 acres specializing in pick-your-own and baked goods and recently constructed a pavilion for special events and weddings.
Willowsford Farm in Ashburn, VA is part of 2000 acre conservancy and operates a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm that serves the community that lives in and around the conservancy. They operate a roadside stand as a pick up location for the CSA shareholders as well as selling items for retail with the hopes of having a larger retail location in the future.
Burnside Farms is a mother and son team that have a seasonal market from fall through Christmas located on a busy highway surrounded by development and shared how they maintain that relationship with the community.
Ticonderoga Farms is a huge agritourist attraction in Chantilly, VA with many activities that would keep a family occupied and entertained for days.
Stoneybrook Farm has a modest size market in Hillsboro, VA and is part of an intentional that produces certified organic produce. The market is timber frame construction and also features a café.
Finally, our last stop at Great Country Farms in Bluemont, VA started as a CSA almost twenty years ago and has grown to a retail farm market featuring many activities and educational programs.
Between our stops we discussed the challenges of not being located on a busy main road and the methods they used to attract the public to their farms. We also talked about signage, lighting, displays and risk management among other topics.
Thank you to our sponsors Martin’s Produce, Kitchen Table Consultants, and the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association for their support and making this program possible.
For more photos from the tour check out these flickr sites from Carla Snyder & Juliette Enfield:
Following are details on the markets visited:
Windy Knoll Farm Market & Creamery, Chambersburg, PA
Windy Knoll Farm Market & Creamery have a reputation for spotless cleanliness and good customer service. They offer a daily hot food bar, fresh produce, their famous homemade ice cream, deli meats, cheeses, delicious subs, hoagies, baked goods, homemade soups, salads, and bulk foods. A new Sandwich Shop is now open!
Taylor’s Farm Market, Inwood, WV
Owners Bob Taylor and his son Ryan Taylor farm over 1,350 acres of row crops and orchards. The Taylor’s farm produces over 130,000 bushels of apples, 5,000 bushels of peaches, cherries, plums, and nectarines that are sold in the farm market along with a huge variety of other local produce. They carry an assortment of West Virginia wines, local honey, jams and jellies, apple butter, sauces from Oliverio’s Peppers in Clarksburg, dairy items, organic products, meats, and more. What they don’t raise themselves, they buy from local farmers. A soup and sandwich deli opened in June.
Orr’s Farm Market Martinsburg, WV
Orr’s is family owned and operated. Today, George Orr’s children and grandchildren are continuing the agricultural path that he paved for them. The business includes pristine orchards, a state of the art packing facility, and farm market.
From the beginning Orr’s has depended on extended family and close friends to help bring in the harvests. Without such a dedicated staff of employees their farm would not be what it is today. George S. Orr, Jr. would be proud of what the family has accomplished, but there are many goals still on the horizon. Over the years the Orr family has diversified from the farm market into specialty crops, a pick-your-own operation, bison, and agritourism events and activities.
Marker Miller Orchards Farm Market and Bakery, Winchester, WV
Marker-Miller Orchards is a Century Farm that is currently being operated by the fourth and fifth generations of the Marker family. John and Carolyn and their daughter Heather are managing the day to day operations on the farm and at the farm market.
Marker-Miller Orchards has learned that they needed to diversify in order to survive and continue farming. They are focused on growing the best quality of fruit and vegetables and want to ensure that when people visit their farm they not only have a farm experience, but also a family experience. The business includes a farm market, pick-your-own, bakery, kiddieland, weekend wagon rides, and festivals throughout the season.
Willowsford Farm, Ashburn, VA
As part of the 2,000 acre Willowsford Conservancy, Willowsford Farm manages over 300 acres of agricultural land, growing more than 150 varieties of vegetables, herbs, fruit, and flowers, and raising several breeds of livestock.
The produce is available through the CSA program and at the Farm Market. Each week there is something happening at the Farm Stand located in their Farm Garden such as vendor visits, cooking demonstrations, garden volunteer hours, and farm tours. The Farm hosts educational activities and events, and supports local area businesses as a distribution point for sustainably raised meat, poultry and dairy products.
Their mission is to grow healthy food right where people live, and to offer the farm as a place to realize their connections to the natural world and to each other. It is an old model, but new to their community.
Burnside Farms, Haymarket, VA
Burnside Farms is owned and run by a mother and son team. They plant more than five acres of spring flowers for one of the most spectacular pick-your-own events in North America. In fact, it’s now one of the largest pick-your-own flower events in the world! Summer features over 25 varieties of sunflowers. Mid-September marks the opening of the fall market with one of the area’s largest selections of pumpkins and gourds, offering more than 50 varieties along with mums, fall plants, fresh cider, tree ripe apples, produce grown on the farm, straw bales, corn stalks. The Burnside barnyard is open for visitors to meet the furry and feathered residents of the farm. Winter features Virginia grown Christmas trees.
Ticonderoga Farm Market, Chantilly, VA
Ticonderoga Farm is very proud of their bees and the award winning dark honey they produce. The farm market has just been redesigned.
Their theme is “Amazing Farm Fun,” the place where anything is possible. Their goal is to make the community a healthier place to live, work, and play through experience, recreation, social interaction, learning, growth and relaxation. Ticonderoga offers many festivities annually and each one is designed for an “Amazing Farm Fun” time. The staff strives to meet and exceed customers’ expectations. In addition to the planned community events they offer reservations for private events.
Stoneybrook Farm and Market, Hillsboro, VA
Stoneybrook is a 45 acre certified organic farm in rural Loudoun County, Virginia. Their mission is to grow quality local organic crops using sustainable practices. They sell their vegetables and fruit through their Farm Market and CSA program. They also sell wholesale to a number of organic produce markets in the greater Washington DC area. Stoneybrook believes in preserving farm land for agriculture and protecting the historical heritage of Northern Virginia. Their soil fertility is maintained through the use of cover crops, compost, and crop rotations. The business includes a farm, farm market and farm festivals.
Great Country Farms, Bluemont, VA
Great Country Farms is a 200 acre working farm situated at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains outside the village of Bluemont, VA. Great Country Farms offers produce, u-pick, fishing, mazes, wagon rides, farm play area, and concession stand as well as the farm experience to its customers. They are also part of the Shenandoah Valley Kids Trail.
The Zurschmeide Family has been farming in Loudoun County for over 35 years and Great Country Farms was started by the second generation of Zurschmeides in Loudoun in 1994. The farm started with a Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA) which has grown over the years and delivers produce to homes as far as Alexandria and Arlington. In 1996 and again in 2007, the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce voted Great Country Farms, “Agribusiness of the Year” for its unique efforts to farm in a difficult climate through innovation, rather than selling out and growing houses.