New Farmer’s Market Manager and Coordinator for the Town of Hillsville Avery Beamer wants future customers to know local agriculture is alive and well; it just needs nurturing. Beamer, a Hillsville native, has been named to the post. He grew up on a 200-acre beef cattle farm which has been in the family for more than three generations.
“I was interested in the position because of my education in agribusiness. I understand the need for producers and consumers to come together to sell the products they have to offer. They are superior products,” said Beamer. “This new venture with the Farmer’s Market will help both the needs of the community and the agricultural economy of the area.”
The knowledge farming should be regarded as an industry comes easily to Beamer, who worked menial daily jobs as a child on the family farm. Beamer said he believes there is a dissonance between producers and customers. The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reported the amount of Virginia farms decreased in 2016 (by 200), while the total land stayed the same. The report indicates the average farm size increased to 181 acres.
“There is a disconnect. I’m hoping that this not only shines a light on agriculture but local agriculture,” Beamer said. “I absolutely agree this task is falling on fewer and fewer people. The demands each farmer faces, if you take the U.S. population into account, one farmer has to produce enough to feed 125 people. That’s quite a load to bear.”
Beamer studied at Wytheville Community College and later transferred to Virginia Tech. He said he has a Bachelor’s in agribusiness.
“I think that was not only a good decision financially, I got a quality education from Wytheville. I’m pleased I did that,” said Beamer. “A lot of the people I know who went to school for a higher education in agriculture have focused on animal science or something which showed them how to get the most out of a product they are producing. But yet I don’t think enough emphasis has been put into running a business. That’s the direction I went in.”
He said he feels it’s a great time and a great area with Carroll having the potential to become a “Napa for Southwest Virginia.” He is optimistic he has the perspective to be able to help, to be a resource, and a mentor.
“I wanted a position where I would be able to mold this into a viable market. But I also want to be able to get my hands dirty,” Beamer said. “One of the things I think helped me the most is the internship I had with Cooperative Extension. That provided me with insight on a lot of different areas in agriculture. I’ve kind of focused on the business side and marketing but the production side and procurement is so important. Agriculture is alive and well but it needs to be nurtured.”
Beamer has a son, Alex, and is engaged to Jennifer Smithers.
He said he is excited about being named to the position and views it as a great opportunity to bring the market along from the ground up. Beamer said he feels Hillsville has a great foundation to build on. He is also complementary of “agritainment.”
“I think agritourism is the more up and coming part of agriculture,” Beamer said. “You see it in the fall with hayrides and corn mazes but even Community Supported Agriculture and cut-your-own Christmas trees. Not only are you getting the product, but it’s an experience.”
A dual use is planned for the market, which will regularly host community events with a staging area (during summer) behind the Hale-Wilkinson-Carter Home.