Providing a Cornucopia of Opportunities

I’ve always thought to be blessed to have grown up with parents that exposed their children to a plethora of opportunities and let us choose our own path to learn and explore more as our interests and skills grew. This method for development continued to be my preferred way of learning as I grew into adulthood, which until recently had occurred subconsciously and provided me with a broad background of experiences and basic understandings that helped me always claim that “I know just enough to be dangerous” at most things.

My career has taken me across the commonwealth of Virginia, growing up and working in the Shenandoah Valley, living and working in Southside for a brief moment after college, and taking in what Hampton Roads/Tidewater area had to offer for a year has broadened my appreciation for the vast opportunities that exist across the commonwealth. To keep with my preferred method of learning and exploration, I tried my best to absorb as much as I could of each area’s agricultural themes and focal points.

I knew I by no means got to experience all that the tidewater area had to offer for unique and interesting agricultural pursuits during my short time living in the area but I was blown away by my experience during the last VALOR session and the impact that the individual industries, businesses, and operations had in their local communities and across the world.

On our last day of this session, we had the opportunity to first visit with Ray Keating of Perdue Agribusiness, who regularly deals with international businesses and governments shipping Virginia and US grain around the world for a multi-billion dollar company to, in the same day, visiting with Seafield Farm on the eastern shore who operates a garden on ONE ACRE and not only produces enough food for their family of 4 – but brings in enough income from sales of their produce to keep the lights on and run the farm as the sole source of their families income. This night/day difference in operation and business style, all experienced in one day, was a definite eye-opener for me and a reminder that our agricultural industry will continue to develop, change and improve to meet whatever demands are out there from our consumers. This change and growth allow the industry to remain the #1 industry in Virginia into the future.

We went from watching a ship being filled with soybeans that was destined for China in our morning tour to the 1-acre garden who sells their products at the local market in the afternoon. Quite the contrasting size and style of production.

I took the opportunity on this trip to turn our purchased souvenirs from our visits into my end-of-year holiday shopping trip. Belmont Peanuts many many flavors of canned peanuts were focal pieces of Kelly and I’s gift-giving to family members this Christmas and the exceptional sweet potatoes from Quail Cove Organics were the highlight of my Thanksgiving table (and I’m happy to share that I’m still enjoying them almost two months later). As we travel and conduct more and more VALOR sessions I’m looking forward to adding more souvenirs like these, that I can share with my family and friends – and subsequently sharing the stories of the individuals behind the products, as reminders of our VALOR sessions and bringing back the conversations held with the owners and producers to make them that much more meaningful.

It’s pretty impressive that the cotton gin, shown above, can turn the dirty cotton shown into clean bales to be shipped around the world.

Even the visits that didn’t have edible products I found fascinating. I’d highly recommend for anyone interested find a way to tour a cotton gin and see the size and scale that is harvested and manufactured to a usable product in such a small relative footprint. While we’re on the topic of small footprint, I’ll admit that I wasn’t aware that Virginia has it’s own type of peanut and every bag of peanuts you buy at a baseball park across the United States is a Virginia-type peanut grown in a corner pocket of Virginia (and some in North Carolina) out of the western tidewater region

It was fitting, in my eyes, that our visit to this area of the state took place around Thanksgiving because this footprint truly does produce a cornucopia of products, goods, production practices, and philosophies of on how agriculture can be developed the best in the future.

My contribution to our Thanksgiving dinner – a successful addition thanks to Quail Cove Organics.

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