Yields Virginia’s Berry-Rich Bounty
At Agriberry Farm, pleasing the eye and delighting the palate with fresh picked berries and nourishing fruits is the first order of business. Beyond that, owners Anne and Chuck Geyer, along with their two adult children, Colleen and Pierson, are advocating for farmers, as well as helping young adults learn about the land, hard work and being fiscally responsible. With the farm’s Harvest Crew program, workers manually pick and pack crops and provide necessary plant care under careful supervision.
For Anne, this is one of the top two most rewarding aspects of her job. “Knowing the difference we make for our three dozen-plus 14-to-22-year-old workers to experience berries, farm work and marketing is only a smidge ahead of how exciting it is for me watching children, especially, fall in love with our berries,” she says.
The Geyers are career, legacy farmers. They protect their land, raise nourishing food and cultivate strong relationships with area farmers. With the motto, “Cultivate a taste for life,” their enthusiasm is apparent.
Agriberry Farm offers the area’s only fruit-oriented Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. With a CSA, members join ahead of the growing season to assist farmers with preseason cash flow. In return, a portion of the harvest is prioritized for members throughout the season. This, along with farmers’ markets and select specialty retailers, are the ways to access the fruits of the Geyer family’s labor. The investment CSA members make directly supports the farm’s Harvest Crew program.
“Because most fruits are more expensive and unpredictable to grow than most veggies, fruit-based CSAs are still rare in the U.S.,” acknowledges Anne. When her family started Agriberry Farm in 2008, they were one of the first. “Knowing that fewer than 10 percent of the U.S. population consumes the recommended three to five servings of fruit daily shows me how important it is for Agriberry Farm to be an ambassador for increasing daily fruit consumption,” she says.
While the farm’s mission is to grow great berries and be a premier agriculture training facility, the Geyers are also passionate stewards of their land and their crops. Although it is not certified organic, Agriberry Farm uses many organic practices, and meets or exceeds all guidelines for safety, both on the field and on the table. Their approach focuses on working with nature’s resources and balances instead of seeking to control every aspect of the field environment.
“With the mid-Atlantic heat and humidity, mold, bugs and pests are realities,” says Anne. They monitor their crops continuously using both organic and synthetic protectants. The idea is to help achieve healthful multiyear plantings with minimal
The farm produces perennial fruits including raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums and apples on 25 acres in Hanover County, and strawberries on fields in Mosley, Virginia. Agriberry Farm serves Richmond, the Northern Neck and Williamsburg, as well as Annapolis, Maryland; they open the farm to visitors several times during the growing season so folks can tour the fields, speak with the owners and the Harvest Crew, stock up on goodies and if the conditions are right, pick berries.