Anne and Chuck Geyer met just after college while working at the University of Maryland’s Research and Education Center on a USDA berry production study. In 1982 the newlyweds moved to Virginia and established a 60-acre berry farm in tidewater Virginia, where they spent 25 years growing and marketing assorted berries and tree fruits, and raising their children Pierson, Colleen and Mary Claire before launching Agriberry Farm in 2008.
In 2011 the Geyers purchased 25 acres of land near Hanover Courthouse, already named “Woodberry Farm,” which is the main campus for the farm. This acreage quickly became home to red, black, and purple raspberries, plus blackberries, peaches, nectarines, plums, apples, blueberries and cherries.
In 2012 the Geyers built a fruit packing shed at the newly purchased and planted Woodberry Site, complete with a commercial kitchen, walk-in freezer, refrigeration and office capabilities, enabling Agriberry Farm to continue expanding it’s production each season.
Having their own land, on which Chuck is building their “forever home,” is the fulfillment of a dream, as any farmer understands. As Anne says, “I just have to keep pinching myself.”
Built from Scratch
Guided by their dream of owning their own land and creating a legacy for their children, Anne applied for and was awarded a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant to start a berry farm. They selected Hanover County–rich agricultural heritage and convenient to large populations and transportation arteries–as the site for the new farm, initially leasing 10 acres of land from neighbor Chuck McGhee’s Grainfield Farm along the historic Pamunkey River.
Faced with a bumper first-season crop ripening every day of the week, Anne soon launched her innovative “all fruit” CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. Her 9-week pilot program in 2008 quickly evolved into today’s 20-week Full Season CSA program, which now has more than 500 members and four distribution areas.
The CSA program, emphasizing farm-direct support and weekday distribution, remains the mainstay of the farm. Year-round financial support provided by the CSA members has enabled Anne and Chuck to build strong partner relationships with other area farmers and to help fulfill Anne’s dream of a summer-long “Young Worker Training Program.” This program enables area youth to gain first-time work experience, hands-on agricultural experience, and a deeper appreciation of their own food supply.
Aspiring farmers often feel that inherited land or resources are needed to start a farm. Agriberry Farm was founded with no land or working capital at the height of an economic downturn. In addition to their Young Worker Program, the also Geyers hope to inspire the start of more new farms with the success of Agriberry Farm.