When Valerie Fry looks around her 47-acre farm in Winfield, she sees a year of growth, of change.
She sees how the past, present and future connect. She sees fruits can’t exist without roots. Corn and soybeans glisten in the sun, the leaves blow in the autumn wind. Her and her husband’s families have farmed for generations. Their roots intertwine with those they plant on the farm. The place where family and food intersect.
Much has happened in a year since her family first celebrated a loan approval through SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) that helped them expand their farm operation.
They started a swine nursery barn operation on their farm last summer, where they also grow crops. The first piglets came last August, and in the spring, they switched to antibiotic-free pigs.
Valerie and her husband, Kevin, also had baby Dylan in April. Dylan’s older brothers, Brycen, 5, and Troy, 3, like to help where they can with the 4,800 pigs, Valerie said with a smile. But really, it’s Kevin, his cousin, and brother who work the farm. They feed the pigs with automatic feeders, provide daily care, and take care that the pigs are healthy.
The pigs come to their barn at 13 pounds when they are weaned, and stay about six weeks until they weigh 60 pounds. Then they are shipped to a finishing barn where they are raised until slaughter weight. The Frys grow pigs for Country View Family Farms who partner with Hatfield Quality Meats. This system allows more products to be provided to the customers from in-state producers.
They were able to start the hog nursery barn with a $200,000 Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority small business loan provided through SEDA-COG’s Business Finance Department. First Columbia Bank & Trust of Bloomsburg helped finance the project with $150,000, and Farm Service Agency financed it at $300,000. The total project cost was $650,000.
Valerie said that SEDA-COG offered great financial expertise for the project.
“They listened to our farm expansion proposal and helped with the application process from start to finish,” Valerie said. “They are supportive of agriculture and understand that it provides Pennsylvania jobs and supplies the food, fiber, and natural resources that we all need daily.”
The farm gives their family the chance to do something of their very own, and to provide a future legacy for their children to continue, should they choose that path.
When Valerie looks at her family farm, she sees the process of personal investment. And when she teaches her students agriculture at Selinsgrove Area High School, she also wants to invest in their futures. She wants them to see what she sees when she looks out at her farm – that spirit of cultivation, appreciation, respect. The effort that went into producing the food that is so easily purchased in the grocery store. The journey the bacon took before it arrived in the deli.
She said this as she accompanied a student who competed at the Eastern States Exposition in Springfield, Massachusetts. He qualified by first speaking at the PA State FFA Convention this summer and now represents the state in prepared speaking. His speech is representative of the diversity of agriculture across the U.S.
“I’m fascinated by the variety that comprises agriculture, and I feel fortunate to be part of the process that fuels this industry,” Valerie said.
At the end of the day, it all comes back to home. Where place and practice, roots and fruits, and care and cultivation meet. It’s where life happens – where things are new every day, where change is the constant.
One can go home again when home has seasons and these seasons are what encompasses life. SEDA-COG’s Business Finance staff is here to help you tap into your future and next season of life with a loan that’s right for you. Call today to start a partnership: 570-524-4491 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.