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 use any genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) 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. We grow with a conscious and are constantly working to improve our growing practices and improve the environment. 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. Composted chicken litter and chicken feather meal are our main organic sources of fertilizer.
The vast majority 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.
The Cullipher Family has been farming in northeastern North Carolina and Tidewater for almost 200 years. The Culliphers and the Britts were from Bertie County, North Carolina while the Simpsons and Brumleys were from Knotts Island (Currituck County), NC. The Bertie County family consisted of peanut, cotton and tobacco farmers with some livestock. James B. Cullipher had three sons who farmed with him raising three cash crops and feed crops for the mules and horses. Like many farms of that era, they were almost self sufficient. Cattle, hogs, and poultry provided the meat and a mixed orchard and berries supplied the fruit. A lot of canning and preserving helped sustain them over the winter. One of those sons was Louis’ father James E. The arrangement was the senior kept all but half of the tobacco money which was divided between the sons as he owned ‘the’ tractor and mules. The first tractor he bought was a 1923 Farmall on the only thing rubber was the fanbelt. He said anything else they wanted to grow would be theirs to keep. That was the beginning of our truck farming. (For those who do not know, truck farming came from the fact that most of a farmer’s crop was sold from the back of a truck in town.) James’ first crops were sweet potatoes and tomatoes.
Our great, great grandfather George W. was taken by Union soldiers patrolling the Chowan River. After being questioned for a night aboard ship, he was allowed to return home. Even though tobacco is not a popular crop to grow now, it provided a good source of income for many small farms throughout the South. Louis’ mother often said that tobacco paid for many a child’s college tuition. Certainly times have changed and we understand now all the dangers associated with tobacco but it did support a lot of families and provide the economic beginning of our country.
Right after World War II ended, James and Belle Cullipher (Louis’ parents) moved back to her home on Knotts Island, NC. Away from the peanut and tobacco growing areas, James became a full time truck farmer. The old Market in Norfolk was where that produce was sold. They would leave Knotts Island between midnight and one in the morning. They would sleep in the truck until the buyers came around 5:00 am and were done by 6:00 or 6:30am. The treat came with a big breakfast downtown and back to the farm.
The Simpsons/Brumleys were from Knotts Island and lived a different lifestyle. They grew vegetables for sustenance and for market during the spring and summer. The fall and winter was spent hunting and fishing. Early on, market hunting for waterfowl was a major source of income during the winter. After that type of hunting was banned, guiding sportsman helped fill that void. Louis often talked about how his grandfather (Burvell Simpson) would take him hunting but he never really enjoyed it because he still associated with work in those harsh conditions. Livestock was handled much different than they are today. The hogs and cattle were kept “on the beach”, what is now known as False Cape and Carova. Each fall, groups of men would round up the herd to gather theirs for market. Papa Simpson as we called him “marked” his with two notches in the left ear. They had no fences, just the marsh and water to keep them from roaming. Looking back, those men were ahead of their time by producing free range, grass fed meat. One of the stories that Papa’s (Louis’) mother loved to tell was about spending her summers on Cedar Island (Back Bay) with her aunt, uncle and cousins. It’s hard to imagine that island supported a family and small farm (Google Earth Cedar Island and imagine a house and farm). She said it was like a Garden of Eden because of the longer growing season. Times were not easy on Knotts Island, but they always ate well.
With these two backgrounds, we always thought we had the best of both worlds, plenty of fresh seafood, good Eastern Carolina barbeque, and an appreciation of both types of farming.
Our current farming is a true blend of our ancestors. Even though our equipment and growing practices have changed, we are still growing a lot of the same crops.