Anne and Chuck Geyer have grown berries and tree fruits together in Virginia for 30 years. They met not long after college at the University of Maryland’s Horticultural research farm, while working on a USDA berry production study. In 1982, as newlyweds, they moved to Virginia and established a berry farm for Westmoreland Land Company, where they spent 25 years growing and marketing assorted berries and tree fruits grown on a more than 60 acres.
Driven by a shared desire to own their own land and Anne’s desire to create a training opportunity for young people, Anne applied for and was awarded a USDA Specialty Crop Grant to start a berry farm in 2008. The Geyers selected Hanover County, with its rich agricultural heritage and convenient access to large populations, to be the site for the new farm, leasing land along the historic Pamunkey River from Chuck McGhee’s Grainfield Farm.
Recognizing an unmet desire for high-quality, locally grown fruit, Anne launched an innovative “all fruit” CSA program in the Richmond, Va. area in 2009 with a 9-week pilot, and so began one of the nation’s only berry and fruit CSAs.
Despite the difficult economic times, the pilot clearly demonstrated Richmond’s eagerness for local fruit. The pilot program quickly evolved into a 20-week CSA program, which now has more than 500 members in three metropolitan areas. In addition to the berries and tree fruit grown by the Geyers, the CSA includes fruit grown by other area family specialty-crop farmers with whom the Geyers have developed long-standing, supportive relationships. Click here to learn more about Agriberry Farm’s CSA programs.
The year-round financial support provided by the CSA members has enabled Anne and Chuck to continue build farmer-to-farmer relationships and to help achieve Anne’s dream of a summer-long “Young Worker Training Program,” which enables area youth to gain hands-on experience in agriculture and a deeper appreciation of their food supply.
In 2011 the Geyers bought 25 acres of their own land about four miles away along Hanover’s scenic River Road, already prophetically named “Woodberry Farm.” This newly planted acreage now hosts red raspberries, black raspberries, purple raspberries, blackberries, peaches, nectarines, plums, and cherries. In 2012 the Geyers built a fruit packing shed with freezer and refrigeration capabilities.
Pierson Geyer, Anne and Chuck’s son, is Agriberry’s Field Operations Manager. He oversees the daily picking activity and field maintenance, and manages the Young Worker Training Program. Daughters Mary Claire and Colleen Geyer both share the family passion for farming and local food, and they work at the farm as their schedules permit. In addition to the Geyer family, Agriberry Farm now employs more than a dozen enthusiastic members of “Team Agriberry,” plus as many as 50 area youth in its field-based Young Worker Training Program each summer.
In addition to the Geyer children, other extended-family members have gotten into the berry act over the years by working at the farm and helping with markets. In 2011 Anne’s sister Susan Frackelton Noyce started an Agriberry CSA program from her home in Eastport, Maryland near Annapolis. The same year Anne’s niece, Ellen Frackelton and her husband Will, started an Agriberry CSA from their home in Williamsburg,Virginia. Both CSAs are thriving.
While fully committed to local food distribution models, Anne and Chuck soon realized that people in surrounding areas were eager for good fruit and could still be served by short car rides. Click on each location to go directly to learn more about those CSA programs.
(We will be adding a “virtual tour” of the Woodberry site soon.)
In 2012, Agriberry Farm was awarded a USDA grant to help develop “added-value” products in addition to what is sold fresh at markets and via the CSA program.In April 2013 the kitchen at the new building received certification from VDACS, and became the site for producing all of Agriberry’s jams and other value-added items. The multi-year value-added product grant has enabled the Geyers to hire additional local workers and to explore a variety of fruit preservation, processing and sales opportunities, such as jams, sauces, frozen and dehydrated fruit, and more. Click here to learn more about Agriberry Farm’s Added-Value Products.
Anne and Chuck began construction of a family home on the property in the Fall of 2013. They continue to explore opportunities to purchase or lease additional land in the area. The family remains deeply grateful for the ongoing support of their loyal customers and the USDA grant programs.
Anne and Chuck are pledged to tell the truth about the food they provide, including its source and farm practices. They are also dedicated to doing everything they can to make their customers happy, being good stewards of their land, and being responsible members of the local farming and business community. Please let them know of any comments, suggestions or concerns.
Anne. Chuck and Pierson Geyer are active locally, regionally and nationally in many farming associations and organizations. These involvements help them to stay up-to-date on the best, most sustainable production practices and help them strengthen their relationships with other like-minded farmers. In addition, Anne is actively involved with area schools and youth programs, and she is a frequent speaker about farming, marketing and the business of farming.
Agriberry Farm’s Woodberry Farm site is located near the Pamunkey River, along Hanover County’s historic River Road, about 2 miles from Route 301 (Chaymberlayne Ave.) Agriberry’s original fields at The McGhee family’s Grainfield Farm are several miles south (toward Route 360) near the site of Hanovertown,
Agriberry Farm may be visited by appointment and does not offer pick-your-own or retail sales at the farm.