Campbell County’s Virginia Cooperative Extension office is finding new ways to bring fresh county-grown produce directly to area residents through its new partnership with Gladys Farm.
Puckette Farms will partner with the Campbell County Extension Office to launch the program, which will sell fresh produce grown in Campbell County.
Aaron Puckette, who runs the family farm, and Darienne Montgomery, who works as an agricultural marketer for the Campbell County Extension Office, said the two parties have a mutual interest in starting the program, looking for ways to find support for local agriculture in the face of rising costs. of food.
“We just kind of saw the need for the community and for the farm to have a partnership,” Puckette said.
Montgomery added, “Right now, as the prices of everything continue to rise, not only are we trying to give more people reliable sources of local produce, but also more affordable prices.”
The program, scheduled to run for 12 weeks, approximately from the end of June to mid-September, will provide half-bushel boxes of approximately 20 items during peak season.
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Some products that will be featured in the box are squash, zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelons, onions, peppers and many other often used products. The items in each box will depend on what is in season at that time.
The box will also contain other things, such as honey and herbs, as Puckette Farms and the extension office look for ways to continue growing down the road.
Montgomery also said she hopes to add recipe cards to the boxes for people who may be new to healthy eating or just need tasty ways to cook food.
The co-op is offering an early bird pricing until Feb. 25, where customers can get 12 boxes for $360. After that, the price will go up to $425 for 12 boxes.
According to Puckette, this direct-to-consumer style of selling allows shoppers to get much fresher produce than at the supermarket because they won’t have to go through the marketing process.
Box pick-up locations will be at the Kabler Lane Extension Office, the Timberlake Tavern on Timberlake Drive, and Puckette Farms in Gladys.
The boxes are not limited to only residents of Campbell County.
“We just wanted to put a face to where the food comes from,” Puckette said. “It’s a very debatable world we live in right now. They can come and see what we’re doing on the farm, and I would really encourage them.”
Todd Smith, an extension office worker, was behind the establishment of the partnership. He approached both parties and told them they should get in touch with each other.
Smith said he wanted to empower the local farm because, he says, the increased cost of running farms “will bankrupt some farms while the bigger ones keep getting bigger.
“They’re not raising prices on the consumer side as much as they should. Farmers’ income is going down more and more as middlemen earn more,” Smith said.
In future years, as the program expands, all parties hope to add other groceries to the box, such as beef, potentially.
The Puckette Farm, which is over 120 acres, has been used as a tobacco farm and a tree farm in the past. But now the family is making the transition back to working produce on the farm.
“You know we grew up [produce] in 2020,” Puckette said, “but it wasn’t on a massive scale like it was last year.”
“There’s a lot of room for growth,” Smith said of the program. “We have people who want beef…but there is room to grow because there are people here who have other things to offer with lots of variety.”
“Eventually,” Montgomery said, “we’d like to get to the point where everyone could get the weekly groceries they need in one box.”
Those interested in participating in the Community Supported Agriculture program can find more information by visiting CampbellVirginia.com or visiting @PucketteFarmsCSA on Facebook.