- Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 11:00
- Published on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 11:00
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Parker Farms, headquartered near Oak Grove with 2,000 acres of produce growing along the Rappahannock River near Leedstown, is supplying almost every major food chain up and down the East Coast with farm-fresh vegetables this summer.
“Wegmans, Harris Teeter, Giant, Safeway, you name it, we supply produce to almost every major supermarket chain,” said Tony Ring, the warehouse manager for Parker Farms, which through the Northern Neck Vegetable Growers Association, operates the wholesale Northern Neck Farmer’s Market on Route 3 near the Westmoreland-King George County line.
Parker Farms is a multi-generational farm owned by brothers Rod and Chris Parker. The Parkers grow produce on farm acreage located in Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, the Carolinas and Georgia. The Parkers began their farming operation in 1974, with two acres of vegetables and berries in Clinton, MD.
Currently, the Westmoreland County farm is producing squash, cucumbers and sweet corn. Standing by a truckload of 560 cases of fresh corn last week, Ring noted the Parkers take pains to get their corn handled swiftly and correctly, so it is sweet and delicious for the consumers.
It is picked in the field, packed into crates and brought here to the warehouse where we immediately use a hydro cooler to bring down the temperature to 34 degrees,” Ring said. “Keeping the corn chilled allows for longer storage and keeps the sugar from turning into starch.”
Ring said Parker Farms also grows spring and summer broccoli in Virginia, as well as zucchini squash. Other crops, including eggplant and bell peppers, are grown on other Parker farms or bought from local Virginia farming operations. Parker Farms’ fleet of trucks is capable of delivering overnight anywhere along the East Coast.
Parker Farms is GFS certified annually by Primus Labs and is noted for working to provide the safest and freshest produce available. Workers undergo extensive training, and food safety is a paramount concern of the farm’s. Ring, who was with Safeway before joining Parker Farms six years ago, declared flatly, “It’s a great place to work.”