Farming is not something you just wake up and decide to do. Farming is a generational lifestyle. In order to be a farmer, you must own or rent large amounts of land. Not only is a lot of land required but a lot of heavy, expensive equipment is needed. Both prerequisites are most often passed along from one generation to the next. For us here at Hope & Harmony Farms, we have been blessed with this upbringing.
For five long months, we prepared and cultivated our Virginia peanut crop. To bring this crop to fruition there has been a lot of praying and hard work. In early March, we begin prepping the land and evaluating the soils from each field. This involves soil testing, fertilizing and the bedding of land for the soil to receive the peanut seed. Once the soil is prepared and the soil temperature is optimal, we spend weeks on the tractor from sunup to sundown planting and working through dinner and family obligations to ensure that the peanut seeds are planted in a timely manner.
After planting we tend to these Virginia peanut plants daily to protect them from weeds, diseases, insects, and animals. Due to dry conditions most summers, we must also provide adequate watering to ensure optimal growth. As the peanuts mature and harvest begins there is still lots to do to bring our Virginia peanuts to market and this requires a lot of manpower.
The peanuts are dug from the ground and inverted so they can dry. We call these windrows. The peanuts will lay on top the ground for approximately five days to dry and reduce the moisture content. This process is repeated, field after field while constantly monitoring the weather. Farmers do not want their peanuts to be rained on or experience frost conditions, as they will prolong the drying process, damage your crop and possibly reduce yields. Once the picking begins we will generally have two pickers running at the same time and this requires someone to haul the peanut trailers from the fields to the dryer.
When attached to the dryer the moisture content diminishes to 10%. The hauling of the peanuts usually goes late into the night. Most times the Pope boys make it home around midnight and are out again by 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning. Upon reaching optimal moisture for storage, the peanuts are removed from the dryers and loaded into a tractor-trailer. The tractor-trailer then transports the peanuts to be graded by government inspectors and separated into different sizes or grade. When complete, our peanuts are shelled based on our orders we have on hand. We will remove the shells and sell peanuts as redskins but for our cooked cocktail style this requires our peanuts to be blanched. To blanch peanuts they are put through a gentle steam process to remove the skins. Once blanching is complete, we roast our famous Hope & Harmony Farms Virginia peanuts and ship to any destination upon request.
You can see this is long process from beginning to end. The growing and production of peanuts requires many people and many long hours of work. It is hard for most to comprehend why someone would want to sacrifice so much of their time for job that fundamentally pays out once a year. But that is not how we farmers view our work. For us, we are one with the land. We are the protectors and the providers. We have faith in God that he will provide for us so we may provide food for the world. Farmers understand that the production of food comes from the rich soils of Earth and food production is not and cannot be instant. In today’s world, it is clear that God made farmers so the world does not forget what it means to be patient. Farmers are tenacious, devoted, but most importantly, patient. So from Hope and Harmony Farms, we say thank you to all farmers on National Farmer's Day and we promise to continue to model that all good things come to those who wait. Love the land. Respect your roots. Give your best.