The Virginia Fruit Page

The Virginia Fruit Page

It is a little known fact that the work of Washington and Jefferson helps put fruit on our tables today. Without these presidents, the Virginian fruit industry never could have developed into the power that it is today. Fruits and other crops from the Commonwealth of Virginia feed people in many locations across the globe, testifying to its importance in the development and implementation of systematic horticulture.

Early on, English merchants looked to the New World as a source of lands and riches that would help England become an international superpower. Their first attempt at a colony on Roanoke Island failed, but Jamestown was established in 1607 and the settlement of what would become known as Virginia was underway. The settlers learned quickly that tobacco brought a handsome profit, and farmers went to work developing horticultural techniques that would boost their yields. A species of tobacco from the West Indies would be Virginia’s number one cash crop, but other fruits and vegetables such as peaches, grapes, and potatoes would also become staples on Virginia farms. The settlers’ passion for wine was especially important in prompting the cultivation of grapes, and for hundreds of years, Virginian grapes have been used to make wine that is enjoyed in many places. To this day, friends send one another wine gift baskets filled with wine that is produced from grapes grown in Virginia. Yet other fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are nearly as important to Virginian farmers. Many people look to Virginian berries to meet their dietary needs or use them at Christmas in holiday gift baskets and other presents.

Virginia has long been known for its important contributions to United States history. Founding fathers such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, men who set the direction for the young constitutional republic at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th, were both born and raised in the commonwealth. But these men not only helped steer the course of the United States in its infancy, they also pioneered techniques that are now standard in horticulture. Jefferson, for example, practiced crop rotation at his estate Monticello before many other farmers adopted this important growing method. The first president of the United States, George Washington, was a skilled farmer who used mulching to increase and maintain his yields of fruits and vegetables. These techniques would later be adopted by farmers across the country, and today the fruits and other foods grown in Virginia are used to fill thank you gift baskets, stock produce departments in grocery stores, and supply canneries and bakeries with ingredients for jams, cakes, and so on.

The original settlers of eastern Virginia did not know that their land would become an essential agricultural center of the United States. Neither were they aware of the many ways their foods could supply the needs of companies that produce gift baskets, candies, and similar wares. The citizens of the world owe Virginia a great debt for all that its farmers have contributed to humanity. When we buy gift quality fruit for our fruit baskets, you can rest assured that many of our baskets will contain Virginia fruits.

Production Totals of Selected Fruits in Virginia:

Peaches – 1,283 Bearing Age Acres (2007)

Grapes – 2,661 Bearing Age Acres (2007)

Strawberries – 296 Harvested Acres (2007)

Raspberries – 60 Harvested Acres (2007)

Blueberries – 160 Harvested Acres (2007)

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