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Northam tours farm

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam toured a Charlotte County farm Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 23, to see firsthand how Archlynn Farm owners are utilizing the latest technology to increase production.

The tour followed Gov. Northam’s announcement that Charlotte County would receive a $20,000 grant from the governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund Planning Grant program to support local agriculture initiatives.

Archlynn Farm, located on Hill Cross Road in Charlotte Court House, is family-owned and operated by Michael and Amy Carwile.

With 35 years of experience, the Carwile’s have diversified and use high tunnel houses to supply the community with a variety of year-round produce and cut flowers.

High tunnel farming allows growers to increase the production of certain crops, grow some crops that could not otherwise be produced in their area, and extend the growing season for certain crops

During the tour, members of the Southside Virginia Fruit and Vegetable Producers Association (SVFVPA) were also on hand to discuss how the market is expanding and future marketing opportunities for the association.

Tuesday’s grant announcement will help facilitate the growth of the SVFVPA by providing administrative support and equipment upgrades.

“Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private sector industry and a critical component of healthy rural economies in Southern and Southwest Virginia,” Northam said. “Our administration is pleased to support the innovative efforts in Charlotte that are helping local agricultural producers and agribusinesses diversify their operations and create sustainable growth.”

The SVFVPA currently has a refrigerated truck parked on-site at Archlynn Farm and will soon construct an aggregation facility funded by Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.

In February 2020, the SVFVPA received equipment and facilities worth more than $200,000 as part of projects supported by grants from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization to help producers.

According to Charlotte County Extension Agent Joanne Jones, SVFVPA was created so growers could sell their products to larger buyers.

“The association was established to promote commercial fruit and vegetable production in Southside through the pooling of resources and aggregation of produce to achieve economies of scale,” Jones said.

Association members include former tobacco producers who are shifting to fruit and vegetable production to maintain the health of their farms’ finances and keep the land in the family.