SANDBRIDGE — Cindy Barnes doesn’t hesitate to describe the key to success for BayBreeze Farms. “Location, location, location,” she said, laughing.
Steve and Cindy Barnes should know. Over the past 12 years, they moved twice to find the ideal spot for their vegetable stand after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bought their former property on the corner of Sandbridge and New Bridge roads.
It had been there 23 years.
“That was the perfect place to be,” said Cindy Barnes, 67. “There was an entrance off of both roads. It was easy to get in and get out. It was on a hill, so people could see us. It was ideal.”
Then they tried to establish a farm stand at their home on Colechester Road, but it was too far back off Sandbridge Road. People drove by – either missing the sign, forgetting about the move or avoided a trek off the main road.
In 2008, the Barneses approached a friend, Jim Riggs, who owns a farm on Sandbridge Road, to see if they could buy enough land for a farm stand. The rest is history, for now they are in the process of purchasing the 5.5 acres where their new building sits – 1076 Sandbridge Road, their new home.
Originally, they constructed a small open structure to house the produce they grow on their 100 acre farm off Colechester Road, but this year they have decided to enlarge the market because this will be their permanent produce stand. They have doubled the indoor space from 2,500 to 5,000 square feet. This leaves plenty of room for new ventures.
“Enlarging the farm market had puzzled me for awhile,” Steve Barnes said, “but, as things fall into place, I am certain it will all work out.”
Steve Barnes,71, said there will be a lot more counter space to display products, including the usual seasonal fruits and vegetables, flowers, cakes, pies, jams and homemade items isuch as local crafts.
A new refrigerated case for fresh seafood will include shrimp from the Carolinas, oysters and clams from the Eastern Shore of Virginia and other fresh seafood as it becomes available.
The stand will also have homemade Carolina barbeque and fresh salads.
Additional storage space and a large cooler will be added to the back because Steve Barnes likes to have his crops ready to be displayed. As they sell, more is brought forward.
With a larger space to cover, Steve Barnes said his employees can expect to do a lot more walking. He had one employee wear a pedometer to work last year. He was surprised to find out he had walked 11.5 miles in the course of his shift without leaving the premises.
“They just keep moving,” Steve Barnes said. “When we are busy, especially in mid July, our busiest month, there is no time to rest.”
Pam Van Nostrand, who has grown up with the Barneses and has worked at BayBreeze for 33 years, said the job is not easy because there is always so much to do.
She was not complaining, though.
“They are good people and easy to work for,” Van Nostrand said. “I like my job.”
As the construction moves towards closure, Steve Barnes said he is excited to see it all come together under one roof. He has been working at the site since February.
They will open their doors for business when their Chandler strawberries are ready, Cindy Barnes said. It changes every year, but it should be around the first week of May. Then cold weather vegetables follow with May peas, onions, lettuce, cabbage and broccoli.
The Barneses are excited to start this new chapter in their lives because they are exactly where they want to be.
“I do this,” Steve Barnes said, “because I love it, and I think I am pretty good at it.”
Reach the market at (757) 689-1505.