BY JANE BLOODWORTH ROWE
BLACKWATER — Land of Promise Farms, traditionally the go-to spot for youth raising pigs as 4-H projects, is now selling pork directly to local consumers at the Market at Land of Promise Farms.
Sausages, bacon, pork chops, ribs and other pork products are now available for purchase by telephone or text messaging, and the purchasers can pick up the products at the Blackwater farm at designated times, said farmer Ryan Horsley.
He is spearheading this retail operation at his family farm with his wife, Anne Horsley, and his sister-in-law, Whitney Horsley. Ryan Horsley said that he opened the market because of what he sees as an increased demand for locally grown foods.
The first pick-up was held on Saturday, May 9, and the response has been good, Anne Horsley said.
Land of Promise Farms also produces sweet corn and pecans, and it is home to about 200 sows who produce litters of nine-10 baby pigs twice a year, Ryan Horsley said. The pigs are normally sold to niche markets, including 4-H members or locals who want a whole pig to barbecue.
The idea to provide a retail outlet for pork had been in his mind for a while. Suddenly, with the novel coronavirus pandemic, the timing seemed right because there is increased interest in local foods.
“Now seemed like a good time to kick it off,” Ryan Horsley said, adding that the pandemic and concern about food shortages had escalated the trend toward buying locally sourced food.
“Locally grown products are popular right now,” Horsley said, “and we can tell our customers that their pork was raised right out back on our farm.”
Land of Promise Farms is at least a fourth-generation family farm with a long tradition of growing pork and making sausages for their own use or to give to neighbors, Horsely said. Because they also sell corn and pecans directly to the consumer, many locals already know them, Anne Horsley added.
The meat is sold in one-pound packages, and the four types of sausages are sold in bulk or in links, including the mild and hot country sausage, which is made from a Horsley family recipe, as well as mild Italian and bratwurst.
Most marketing is done by social media, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, said Anne Horsley, and the family is planning a website that will facilitate the ordering.
Virginia Beach resident Kathi Barefoot, who is one of the family’s first pork customers, said that she likes the product and loves the drive out to the farm, which she describes as “beautiful.”
“This has lifted my spirits,” said Barefoot, adding that she and her husband, Ken Barefoot, who are in their 70s, have been leery of going into a large grocery store since the pandemic began.
She particularly appreciates arranging the pick-up in advance, and the staff brings the product directly to her car so that she doesn’t have to get out.
Land of Promise Farms is the second retail pork outlet in Virginia Beach. Cartwright Family Farms, located on Muddy Creek Road in Pungo, has been raising and marketing pork for six years, said owner Derek Eason. He works with his parents, Chester and Carol Eason, and his fiancée, Brittany Timbreza.
Eason’s customers include 11 local restaurants. Although the restaurants were ordering less since the pandemic, he said there was an overall increase in sales because more individuals are ordering. He is considering increasing the number of hogs that he raises.
Cartwright Family Farms offers bacon, sausages, pork chops and other pork products for online and onsite purchasing, but pre-ordering online is strongly encouraged right now because of high demand, Eason said.
For more information about The Market at Land of Promise Farms, search @themarketatlopf on Facebook or Instagram. Call or text (757) 439-5048 for orders. Pick-ups are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturdays, and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesdays, at the farm, located at 3169 Land of Promise Road in Blackwater. Customers must preorder, and they are encouraged to call and alert the staff before they come to pick up.
For more information about Cartwright Family Farms, visit its website via cartwrightfamilyfarms.com, search @cartwrightfamilyfarms on Facebook and Instagram, or call (757) 477-6293. The market, located at 1549 North Muddy Creek Road in Pungo, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays. Customers can preorder online, and, right now, that’s strongly encouraged.
© 2020 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC