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CFC Farm and Home Center celebrates 80-year birthday

LANDMARK: CFC Farm and Home Center is turning 80. It now serves homeowners, equestrians and farmers through its five retail locations in Culpeper, Marshall, Rappahannock, Morrisville and Warrenton.
It's 1932.

The economy was deteriorating and unemployment was at nearly 25 percent. Voters bumped Herbert Hoover out of the White House in favor of Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt. A drought parched the agricultural heartland of this country and both businesses and families defaulted on record numbers of loans, and more than 5,000 banks failed.

It was 1932 when a loaf of bread was seven cents and a gallon of gasoline was 10 cents. The average cost of a new home was a little over $6,500 and an annual wage, for those who were lucky even to have work, was around $1,650.

In Culpeper County, farmers soon realized that trying to go it alone meant that many would not survive becoming victims to the economic blight that plagued the country. It was just too expensive to maintain farms on their own.

So, they banded together. They pooled resources and services forming the Culpeper's Farmers' Cooperative. By being a member, a farmer could save on the purchase of seeds, machinery and other farm equipment.

The Co-op rented a building on Wausau Street, with a total of 205 members paying dues of $1,230. With a start-up loan of $10,000 at 6 percent interest, the Co-op saw sales of $84,435 in its first 14 months of operation.

This was a remarkable accomplishment in 1932 and it happened right here in Culpeper.

In 2011, CFC Farm and Home Center had net sales of $35 million and employed 116 people in three counties.

CFC Farm and Home Center turns 80 this month.

As part of their anniversary celebration the Culpeper location will be a tour stop Saturday, October 6, for the Culpeper County Farm Tour. There will be numerous activities throughout the day including guided tours of the feed milling and bagging facility.

Now at five locations, all will have a special anniversary sale starting October 17.

Director of Retail Marketing Ed Dunphy is optimistic about the co-op's future and thrilled that they have been able to serve the Piedmont region for eight decades and growing.
“Beyond this direct impact of employment we help to support the local ag economy by purchasing locally produced grain to use in our feed mill. In 2011 we purchased 769,000 bushels of grain from area farmers. Our extensive use of local grains to produce quality feeds milled in Virginia has earned us several designations by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. CFC animal feeds all carry the Virginia’s Finest check mark. Those feeds that contain significant amounts of local grain products also have the Virginia Grown designation,” said Dunphy.

A look back

If you take a look at the Cooperative's website, there is a section that includes a brief look at its history. It's reprinted here to share with our readers the journey and growth that this Culpeper business icon has experienced.

After a fire destroyed the Wausau Street facility in 1959, the Culpeper Co-op moved to its present location on Brandy Road in 1960, and a fertilizer plant and feed mill were added. The present feed mill was constructed in 1976, increasing significantly the capabilities of the volume of feed produced. The remodeling of the current retail facility, featuring the distinctive cylindrical entry-way, was completed in 2006.

In Remington, the Co-op had opened its doors in a leased facility in 1940, and was able to purchase the Embry Building in downtown Remington by 1948. That same year, the warehouse and tanks across the street were purchased from the Remington Milling Company and added to the facility.

In 2006, the Remington store was moved when a new store was built about five miles south of Bealeton, and the Remington property sold. In its new location, it became the Morrisville CFC Farm and Home Center, located near the town of Morrisville, VA on Route 17.

The Rappahannock branch had been added in 1952, in a facility located in the village of Sperryville. In 1979, the Co-op purchased and renovated the former Rediviva Cold Storage Co-op and apple-packing shed and moved to its present location.

The Warrenton Co-op was formed in 1958 with the purchase of Beach's Feed Service located near the present restaurant, Claire's at the Depot. In 1967, the Co-op was relocated to its present site, with a new facility on six acres of land leased from the Southern Railroad. In 1982, the lawn and garden center was added.

In 1979, the Marshall store was added, with the purchase of the John W. Mills facility, and began its retail sales in 1980. By 1989, a new store was constructed, and opened for business in the spring.

As Culpeper Farmers' Cooperative approaches its 80th Anniversary, they celebrate the services it provides in these communities and surrounding areas. CFC has remained a constant in the lives of local farmers, ranchers, 4-H Clubs, horse enthusiasts, and other members of the community.

Personal service has always been the hallmark of the Co-op, as they treat customers as neighbors and family.

In all the years of its operation, Culpeper Farmers' Cooperative, Inc. has had only five presidents and six general managers. Some of the names on the original roll of officers and directors are still familiar 80 years later: President A. Gordon Willis, Vice President Lee Blankenbaker, Secretary Walter Pierce, and members C. E. Griffith, H. H. Hitt, W. B. Kilby, William J. Smith and E. Turpin Willis.

In the spring of 2005, the retail stores' names were changed to CFC Farm & Home Centers, to reflect the changes in the Co-op since its origins. No longer just for farmers and ranchers, the Co-op now sells not only feed and tack, but clothing and hats, house paint, cookbooks, specialty toys and many other items for both farm and home.

Info box
2012 Culpeper Farm Tour stop
CFC Farm & Home Center

Saturday October 6
10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Participating Saturday only

• Majestic Meadows Stables Natural Horsemanship Riding Exhibitions throughout the day presented by Bonnie Williams.

• Feed Mill tours on the hour and half hour. These guided tours will teach you how local farmers benefit from having feed manufactured using local grains. Take a free feed sample with you to use at other farm tour stops!

• Virginia Miniature Horse Club
will present “The Biggest Little Show on Earth” through the day. See what family fun can be derived from minis!

• Moo Thru mobile van will be offering locally produced ice cream for sale throughout the day.
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