GENERAL FARMING PRACTICES
Production and Pesticides: The Cullipher family uses Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which emphasizes sustainable and ecological growing practices. IPM means the use of multiple methods, including biological, cultural, genetic and chemicals to control pests. Crop rotation is a key component in our pest management. We do not grow any genetically modified fruits and vegetables on our farm. In addition we have almost an acre and a half of high tunnels (metal frames with a plastic covering) to extend our growing seasons and better control outside variables to grow the highest quality fruits and vegetables possible. Modern plant breeding has improved tremendously in the area of disease resistance which reduces our pesticide usage. We also plant host crops for beneficial or predator insects throughout the farm. Our produce is monitored throughout the entire growing process so we can ensure your family enjoys produce that meets our family’s unsurpassed quality standards. If it has our name on it, you can rest assure it is grown to the highest standards possible and matched by our 100% money back guarantee.
Soil and Water Conservation: Aside from family, our natural resources are our most valuable asset. Clean water and soil are keys to the sustainability for us and future generations. We have a Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation approved nutrient management plan (NMP). What that means is each year we take soil samples from every field to establish the existing nutrient levels. With that information, we determine how much fertilizer to use on each crop. We also split our fertilizer applications to match the crops’ needs as opposed to applying all of it at the beginning of the year. By doing this, very few nutrients have a chance to leach into the groundwater. We have also been able to reduce our fertilizer use by planting cover crops that produce nitrogen and improve organic matter. We are implementing REGENERATIVE practices to incorporate livestock in our rotational plantings.
Land Preservation: Almost all of the land that we farm is enrolled in the City’s Agricultural Reserve Program which is designed to help keep farms viable and prevent development. The City purchases development rights of the land over the span of 25 years. This benefits the community and the owners by minimizing the need for additional city services and a safety net to weather the tough years. We felt like this is a very important step to take to ensure the land base is secure for future generations. We are also partners with the USDA, VA Dare Soil and Water Conservation District, and VA Dept. of Game And Inland Fisheries in several programs to enhance water quality and wildlife habitat.
Sustainability: Our land is enrolled in the city’s Agricultural Reserve Program so that it remains in agricultural use. We partner with the USDA, VA Department of Conservation and the VA Dare Soil and Water Conservation.
SPECIFIC CROP INFORMATION
Strawberries: We grow three varieties of strawberries: Ruby June (majority) and Albion and Merced. Our plants come from Northern California and produce a larger, sweeter berry because of their plant structure. These varieties allow us to expand our season earlier and late than the traditional picking season. We plant over 90,000 plants a year by hand in mid-October and begin harvest in early April.
Blueberries: We have 4 acres of blueberries including Southern and Northern Highbush and Rabbiteye. These varieties have a harvest window from late May until July.
Peaches/Nectarines: The 8 acres of stone fruit consist of several varieties of freestone white and yellow peaches and nectarines. Typically, the season begins in late June and runs to late August.
Apples: Our trellised apple orchard currently has over 8,000 trees with over 5,000 in production. Our apples are grown using the high density or tall spindle system so the trees are supported by posts and wires. This allows for our fruit to be picked without ladders. We grow Evercrisp, Crimson Crisp, Ludacrisp, Rosalee, and Ambrosia. Our new plantings are cider and dual purpose varieties such as Firecracker, Sommerset, Sweet Maia and Spitzenberg.
Grapes: Our vineyard consists of 4 acres of southern table grapes. Muscadine and scuppernong are the earliest cultivated grapes in the colonies. The oldest living vine is still alive on Roanoke Island and dates back to the 1500’s. We also grow a southern version of Concord called Sunbelt. Sunbelt first ripens in late July and the others are ready in September and October.
Pumpkins: We typically grow 15-17 acres of 25 varieties of pumpkins and decorative gourds. We plant them in cereal rye which keeps them clean and laying on a bed of straw. This practice helps conserve moisture, suppress weeds and reduces diseases. Our pumpkins and gourds cover every color, shape and size you can think of.
Sweet Corn: On average, we grow 18-20 acres of super sweet bi-color corn. All of our corn is non GMO. We plant continuously from early April to mid-August which means the harvest season is from late June until mid-October.
Vine Ripe Tomatoes: Our first tomatoes are grown in high tunnels (unheated greenhouses) and then everything is grown in the field. We grow a large mix of slicing, heirloom, cherry, grape and Roma style. We typically plant tomatoes 4-5 times throughout the year to have them through October.