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OPN Connect Newsletter 221 · June 10, 2021

Southern Virginia Organic Growers Group Helps New Organic Farmers


An organic farmer in Virginia has organized a trade group to help Virginia growers new to the organic sector.

The Southern Virginia Organic Growers Association was organized this spring. 

“The nonprofit group is designed to help growers enter organic production,” says founder Jordan Brandon, owner of Old Dominion Organic Farms, a Dundas, VA-based organic vegetable growing operation.

Starr Ranch June 2021

Jordan Brandon, Founder, Southern Virginia Organic Growers Association

The organization consists of more than 20 farmers. The group’s purpose is to assist growers new to the organics sector deal with challenges such as food safety and achieving organic certification, says Brandon.

“We have begun to enlist more farmers spread over a larger geographic area to ensure consistent production and availability of products,” says Brandon. “We have created a structure to provide local producers with guidance growing crops, maintaining organic and food safety certification, packing and shipping, variety selection, and crop planning.”

Wish Farms June 2021

“The growers group is focused on meeting and maximizing market demand while limiting exposure for the individual grower,” says Brandon. “The producers in the group have experience managing specialty crops, sourcing and managing labor, and may need assistance exploring and moving into other markets. Together with our partner farms and relationships with wholesalers, we are able to expand quickly and strategically in our Mid-Atlantic growing region.”

“We have created a structure to provide local producers with guidance growing crops, maintaining organic and food safety certification, packing and shipping, variety selection, and crop planning.” - Jordan Brandon

The group should help fill a void in the region. “Historically, we don’t have the infrastructure here in southern Virginiaor the marketing. We don’t have any of that,” says Brandon. “We are trying to handle everything they haven’t been doing and are not familiar with. We want to get these guys to focus on what they do wellgrowing crops.”

Jacobs Farms/Del Cabo June 2021

Brandon plans to roll the Southern Virginia Organic Growers Association into his business. Old Dominion will pack for the association's growers in its 50,000-square-foot packing shed, which is currently being constructed. Scheduled to become operational next spring, the packing operation will expand Brandon’s existing 10,000-square-foot line.

“Together with our partner farms and relationships with wholesalers, we are able to expand quickly and strategically in our Mid-Atlantic growing region.” - Jordan Brandon

Chelan Fresh June 2021

A 12th-generation family farmer, Brandon’s legacy traces to 1654. Though his family's farm originally grew tobacco, in 2015 Brandon transitioned it to growing organic vegetables, including broccoli, cabbage, summer squash, bell peppers, and cucumbers. In southern Virginia and northern North Carolina, Old Dominion grows on approximately 1,700 acres of organically certified land, with fresh produce on 500 of those acres (the farm also grows organic field corn, soybeans, and alfalfa).

“Virginia organic growers will benefit from growing consumer interest in local produce,” says Brandon. “Being a localeven an East Coast growerhas clear benefits when the majority of the competing growers are in Mexico or California. More of the organic buyers pay attention to the source of the produce than the conventional produce buyer. Being in the Mid-Atlantic region allows us to ship produce up and down the coast quickly, thus offering our customers a fresher product.”

“Virginia organic growers will benefit from growing consumer interest in local produce. Being a localeven an East Coast growerhas clear benefits when the majority of the competing growers are in Mexico or California.” - Jordan Brandon

NatureSafe June 2021

Virginia’s location also helps with logistics. “As trucking becomes more regulated and costly, we are well-positioned to transport products to all of the major metropolitan centers on the East Coast as well as those as far west as Chicago and even into Canada,” says Brandon. "Another benefit to growing in our area is our mild climate and the availability of water for irrigation.”

Global Organics Group June 2021

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