Governor Northam Announces Major Farm Market Expansion in Rockingham County

~ Overlook Produce leverages success of roadside farm stand to build new packing operation and large retail market featuring Virginia-sourced produce, seafood ~
RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Overlook Produce and Farm Adventures will invest over $850,000 to build a new produce packing facility and retail market pavilion in Rockingham County. Having outgrown its roadside stand in Mt. Crawford, the company’s new facility, located off Interstate 81’s Exit 240, will feature seasonally available fruits, vegetables, meats, honey, baked goods, flowers, and seafood. The project will create six new jobs and all net new purchases will be 100 percent sourced from Virginia farm families and watermen. “Virginia’s agricultural sector is strong because of the entrepreneurial spirit of individuals like Joe and Janice Ulmer,” said Governor Northam. “Shenandoah Valley residents and those who travel Interstate 81 will be able to enjoy the diverse bounty that Virginia’s farmers and watermen provide through this exciting new venture.”  Owner Joe Ulmer and his wife Janice are lifelong Shenandoah Valley farmers and opened Overlook Produce’s farm stand in 2016 after five years of selling their produce through the Shenandoah Valley Produce Auction. The Ulmer’s new 27-acre site will house a large open-air market pavilion, greenhouses, pick-your-own strawberry and pumpkin patches, and other Virginia-grown favorites. An expanded warehouse and cold storage facility will allow for increased sales to retail and wholesale customers, as well as a major expansion of product offerings to include Chesapeake Bay crabs and oysters, both shucked and in shell.    “Farm markets play a critical role in connecting small- and medium-sized producers to the local customer base that sustains their operations,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “I am pleased we could partner with Rockingham County through the AFID Fund to support this new venture, and I applaud Overlook Produce for their commitment to sourcing products from Virginia.” “We are grateful for the opportunity to expand and better serve our community with local produce, said Joe Ulmer, Owner of Overlook Produce and Farm Adventures. “With our expansion we will now be able to offer a larger variety of all your essential local food items.” “As the leading agriculture producing county in the Commonwealth, Rockingham County is pleased to work with Overlook Produce on their expansion,” said Chairman of the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors Rick Chandler. “The Ulmer’s commitment to provide fresh produce and products to the community is an asset to residents and their new location will provide access for visitors and travelers on Interstate 81.” The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services worked with Rockingham County and the Rockingham County Economic Development Authority to secure this project for the Commonwealth. Governor Northam approved a $15,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund, which Rockingham County will match with local funds. “I am so incredibly proud of Joe and Janice along with the rest of the team at Overlook Farms,” said Delegate Chris Runion. “Their work is important to our region and our local community. Their family farm will provide our community with farm-fresh staples and will also serve as a destination shopping experience.” “Farmers selling directly to citizens is the best way to promote agriculture, provide healthy and sustainable foods, and keep the economy growing locally,” said Senator Emmett Hanger. “I am pleased the Ulmer’s and Rockingham County can benefit from AFID funding to grow this local business promoting Virginia foods.”