Tourists enjoy an agricultural sampler of the Northern Neck

Jackie Nunnery

by Jackie Nunnery


Sean McFadden, business development manager with Parker Farms, explains the process of grading, cooling and storing sweet corn before it’s shipped to retailers. From left are McFadden, Tim Hass, Ed Orfield, Judy Orfield, Alex Chamberlin and Lona Bell.

About 40 farmers and history buffs recently toured the Northern Neck, eager for a glimpse of local agriculture, hoping to take back some best practices to use in their own farming operations.

The agricultural tour was organized by John Blankenship, an agricultural and natural resources agent with Virginia Cooperative Extension. Blankenship organizes such trips to a different location every year, hoping the group will “identify things that will improve our farms” back home.

Home for most of this year’s group is Tazewell County, nestled in the Appalachian Mountains on the border between Virginia and West Virginia. About 90 percent of the farmers there raise livestock and poultry since the terrain makes it difficult to plant and grow crops.

After an evening in Kilmarnock, the group left bright and early Friday, July 26. The first stop was Parker Farms in Oak Grove, which started as a pick-your-own produce operation in 1974. After three generations, the endeavor has evolved into a large marketing…