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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Farmers Direct Marketing Association's
Summer Tour to Highlight Charlottesville Area

Farm Business Management Update, June 1998

By Charlie Goodman, Dave Vaden, Dave Robishaw, and Cathy Belcher of the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech

The fifth Farmers Direct Marketing Association's (FDMA) Summer Tour will take place on July 21 in the Charlottesville area. Tour participants will meet at Piedmont Community College to register and board buses.

The first stop will be at Blue Ridge Chestnut Farm, operated by board member Wally Bedell and his wife, Dee. The Bedells started out selling their chestnuts at local farmers' markets. They ran into competition from folks who had three or four chestnut trees in their backyards and were selling their chestnuts, worms and all, for a price much lower than they could sell their superior product. They now sell 50 to 100 pound bags to upscale restaurants, gourmet food stores, and mail order.

The next stop will be Mount Air Farm in Crozet. Owners, Mr. and Mrs. William G. Keller, raise natural beef and pork, as well as range eggs on 900 acres of rolling pasture and woodlands. They believe their ecologically-focused approach allows them to improve the range and watershed, provide livestock with a humane environment, and ultimately, offer desirable and wholesome food products to the consumer. Their products are sold in their own retail store, The Beef Barn.

White Hall Vineyards, owned by Edie and Tony Champ, will be the next stop where participants will have a tour of the winery, wine tasting, and lunch. This beautiful vineyard and winery produces award-winning estate bottled wines. In 1997, White Hall Vineyards 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon won the prestigious Governor's Cup competition. This year, their Gewurtztraminer won the Governor's Cup. Lunch will be catered by Big Jim's Barbecue in Charlottesville.

The final stop will be Carter Mountain Orchard, owned by Ruth and Henry Chiles. The Chiles offer their apples on a pick-your-own or fresh-picked basis. Visitors to the orchard can purchase pies, breads, dumplings, cider, and donuts from their bakery. They also have a gift shop featuring local crafts. Free hayrides on October weekends, Apple Festival Weekends, an observation deck, and picnic facilities with breathtaking views are some of the farm's special features.

The Youth Direct Marketing Awards will be presented at this stop. These awards are presented annually to young people who have done an outstanding job in direct marketing.

A new feature for the tour this year will be guest direct marketers, who will be on hand at White Hall Vineyards and at Carter Mountain Orchard to share their direct marketing experiences. At this time, plans are to have direct marketers of shiitake mushrooms, cut flowers, goats, and emu.

Go to tour schedule and registration form.

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