Agriberry Farm

American Made Since 2008

Laurie Petronis

Studley , Virginia
Agriberry Farm and CSA sustainably grows berries & fruit for VA/MD consumers and provides farm jobs for area youth to learn about agriculture.
Food, Agriculture & Sustainability

Tell us about your business.

Agriberry Farm is owned and operated by life-long farmers Anne and Chuck Geyer. The Geyers, dreaming of owning their own farm, began Agriberry Farm in 2008 to help meet Central VA's increasing demand for local fruit. Lacking available capital or inherited land, they started their farm with 5 acres of leased land and a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant. The Geyers now grow raspberries, blackberries, peaches, nectarines, cherries and plums on 25 acres purchased in 2011. To help connect directly with area consumers, Agriberry Farm offers a unique 20-week All Fruit CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program with more than 400 members across Richmond, Northern Neck and Williamsburg, VA, and Annapolis, MD. The Geyers believe in farming as a career and lifestyle, as well as the health benefits of sustainably grown berries and fruit. They hope Agriberry Farm will be a legacy for their children, Pierson, Mary Claire and Colleen, who remain active in this thriving family venture.

Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.

Located in historic and agriculturally rich Hanover County, VA, Agriberry Farm began in 2008 with 99 rows of berry plants on 10 acres of land leased from a neighbor. In 2011 Anne and Chuck purchased a nearby 25 acres, already known as "Woodberry Farm," which has become the new home for Agriberry Farm. Chuck and Anne quickly planted their seedling fruit trees, and many more rows of berries. In 2012 Chuck built a large barn, which serves as a packing shed, storage facility and office, and a 600 sq. ft. commercial kitchen, which was outfitted and certified in the spring of 2013. A 1000 sq. ft. cooler helps keep all the highly perishable fruit fresh and ready for market.

What inspires you?

Anne and Chuck are inspired by everything about Agriberry Farm, including: ~growing healthy, nourishing food, which people love to eat; ~keeping beautiful Virginia farmland in production; ~being good stewards of their land; ~being independent business owners; ~creating employment opportunities for family and neighbors; ~helping provide summer employment for area young people while they learn more about farming and their food supply; ~providing a safe, positive environment for their employees; ~deepening their relationships with other family farmers; ~building a family home on the Woodberry Farm site, to be completed in November, 2014; ~sharing in the excitement of the emerging local food economy; and ~working side-by-side with our children to build and grow a successful family-owned business.

What makes your business stand out?

Agriberry Farm is one of the few farms in our area that focuses almost exclusively on fruit. It helps us stand out from other farms and CSAs. Our CSA members are very loyal and they love our fruit, but they also love their connection to the farm. They support our broader goals, such as sustainable practices and our Young Worker Training Program. Growing and harvesting berries is a labor intensive process with labor demands peaking in June and July. To meet this need, Agriberry Farm hires area youth--primarily high school and college students--as summer field workers with the hope of inspiring a few new farmers. Even if they don’t turn out to be farmers, the program is a first employment opportunity for many of these young workers. There are cheaper, more efficient ways of harvesting crops, but we feel this opportunity is berry, berry important, and so do our many CSA members and other loyal customers throughout the area.

What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?

Look for meaningful work in which you believe. Then, look for every available resource to help you toward your goal, and give it everything you've got.

What does American Made mean to you?

Family farming has defined "American Made" since this country was founded. Family farmers protect the land of this country and create the food that nourishes our people using the land itself. Nothing is more quintessentially American Made than a family farm growing healthy, nutritious food.

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