An otherwise inconspicuous grain elevator along Tidewater Trail in Center Cross, Virginia, holds thousands of bushels of soybeans. However, these aren’t just your average beans. The Montague Farms facility contains natto beans grown by farmers in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina, and destined for export to Japanese markets. It’s not just the beans that are above average, either. Three generations of the Taliaferro family treated the VALOR fellows to a tour of the facility and an inside look at their operation. The Taliaferros are trained in engineering and physics and have applied their skills to developing a niche market that benefits not just their family, but the many famers they contract with to grow the natto beans.
The Taliaferros are quick to recognize the role of others in their success, too. A strong working relationship at VDACS, both at home and abroad, has provided expertise and access. Collaboration with researchers at Virginia Tech has resulted in the development of crop varieties that excel for Montague and their growers. Montague growers receive a premium for their product and often grow varieties that out-yield conventional beans, adding dollars to the farm gate for the families involved. For an example of private innovation, public sector collaboration, and research from a land-grant resulting in a success story, look no further than Montague Farms. Our sincere thanks to the Taliaferros for their hospitality and taking time to visit with the VALOR fellows this July.