Anne and her berries.
Founded in 2008, Agriberry Farm grows strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches and nectarines, increasing the type and quantity of fruits it produces each season. In addition to selling at farmer’s markets and other local retailers, the farm offers a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program in Richmond, Annapolis and Williamsburg.
Agriberry Farm is owned and operated by Anne and Chuck Geyer. 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. To learn more about Anne and Chuck’s journey together, please read on.
AgriBerry Farm: A Fruitful Adventure
Anne and Chuck Geyer met just after college while working at the University of Maryland’s Horticultural research farm on a USDA berry production study. In 1982 the newlyweds moved to Virginia and established a Westmoreland County 60-acre berry farm, where they spent 25 years growing and marketing assorted berries and tree fruits.
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 from Hanover native Chuck McGhee on his Grainfield Farm on the historic Pamunkey River.
The First CSA
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 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 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 building strong farmer-to-farmer relationships and to help fulfill Anne’s dream of a summer-long “Young Worker Training Program,” which enables area youth to gain first worker experience, hands-on agricultural experience and a deeper appreciation of their own food supply.
In 2011 the Geyers purchased 25 acres of land on 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 and began using a fruit packing shed with freezer and refrigeration capabilities on the property. A commercial kitchen was outfitted and certified by VDACS in the spring of 2013 for the preparation of Agriberry’s frozen berries, jam, applesauce and other new products.
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.
Growth Through Family
In addition to the Geyer children, other extended-family members have gotten into the berry act over the years, 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 Hodges, started an Agriberry CSA from their home in Williamsburg,Virginia. To learn more about Agriberry Farm’s CSA programs, click here.
Most recently, Anne’s sister Molly Frackelton Schutrumf, has begun working with Anne to help coordinate evolving wholesale opportunities for fresh berries and value-added products such as jams, frozen berries, fruit purees and more. If you are interested in more information about Agriberry wholesale, we’d love to hear from you!
Agriberry Farm Today
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 Value-Added 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.
The Agriberry Farm Commitment
Anne and Chuck have 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 you may have about Agriberry Farm.
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.
Where is Agriberry Farm?
Agriberry Farm’s Woodberry Farm site is located along Hanover County’s historic River Road, about 3 miles from Route 301 (Chaymberlayne Ave.) Agriberry’s original leased fields, still in production at the McGhee family’s Grainfield Farm, are 5 miles south (toward Route 360) near the site of Hanovertown,
Agriberry Farm is open by appointment. The farm does not offer pick-your-own or retail sales from the farm.
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. All rights reserved.