Much thanks is given to Kevin Beamer and his family for VALOR Class IV’s tour of Virginia Produce Company Inc in Hillsville, VA during our Southwest VA seminar. I enjoyed the tour through the processing and storage facility and learning about how VA Produce Co. works with both local growers in VA and growers across the country. The takeaways I had from this tour were (1) the value of processed and packaged vegetables and (2) the devotion and drive it takes to carry on a family business.
The average consumer probably doesn’t know about the processing, and care, that goes into those perfectly cut and wrapped ears of corn that hit our grocery store shelves. From bulk bin to box, it only takes minutes for an ear of corn to be shucked, cut, placed on a tray, wrapped and labeled, then placed in a box for the cooler, ready for shipment. Such a streamlined and efficient process. Its also very good to know that waste from shucking and cutting the corn goes to a covered outdoor storage area where local farmers can pick it up, by wagon or truck load for feeding local livestock. We met a load or two leaving upon our arrival to the facility and watched a load out while there. Nothing much is wasted, and farmers are first hand experts on the topic of recycling and making use of all parts of a product – we’ve witnessed this in previous seminars and will surely see more. The packaging of cherry tomatoes at VA Produce Co. was also an entertaining site.
The facility didn’t repack or process all produce that comes in; the majority of the produce simply passes through – trucks bring it in from farms, orders are placed, and within as few as hours, its in the hands, or on the shelves, for the consumer.
The Beamer family has a great business at VA Produce Company Inc. From humble family beginnings in 1955 with Keith Beamer making truck deliveries in Southwest VA, to managing 43 farms (50% of which are in Carroll County, VA) by 2014, VA Produce Co. has made strides in the agricultural industry in farm development, food safety and value added products as well as valuable employment options for Southwest VA residents. I can only hope, as a produce grower myself, that my own family can take an interest in what we do, for generations to come.