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Orr’s Farm Market

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Market Keeps Local Produce in Eastern Panhandle

By JESSICA WIANT  For The State Journal

If you walk into Orr's Farm Market in Martinsburg and really take the time to look around, you'll see beyond the obvious bins of cantaloupes and baskets of apples and tomatoes. 

Unique offerings line everything from freezer shelves to rafters, — from locally sourced milk, cheese, ice cream and salsa to baskets and baking mixes. All kinds of soup mixes, noodles, candles, chutneys, jams and dressings — many items carrying the Orr name —line shelves, worthy complements to the lettuces, mushrooms, squash, cucumbers, corn and other produce ripe for purchase. And there's plenty for dessert — bakery items such as apple cider doughnuts and fruit pies are for sale, too.

Each season, new offerings debut. This year, Orr's own beef is at the market, along with pork from another company in the Shenandoah Valley. Last year, purple green beans and unique varieties of heirloom tomatoes tempted customers.

In season, as much of what's for sale as possible comes right from the farm, retail manager Katy Orr-Dove said. What isn't is as local as possible, which is something she said she's proud of.

And, of course, there's the fruit.

While 85 percent of the more than half-century-old Orr family orchard business still rests on its apple and peach production, the farm market is its face, according to Orr-Dove, a granddaughter of the founder.

In 1954 George S. Orr Jr. started out with 60 acres of orchard, according to the Orr's Farm Market website. Eventually the business built its own packing facilities and grew to 1,100 acres of orchards.

Today, the descendants of the late George S. Orr Jr. fill different leadership roles within the company.

The packing facilities distribute several types of apples and peaches under the Mountaineer brand name to a variety of wholesale customers including Walmart and Kroger, according to Orr-Dove. 

Out in the orchards and fields — now totaling 950 acres — an integrated pest management program is in practice to cut down on the use of pesticides.

And on the other side of things, the farm market continues to seek ways to branch out more into the field of agritourism.

It actually wasn't until the 1990s that a retail market opened up to serve individual customers. Orr-Dove, a former kindergarten teacher, took over as retail manager within the past decade.

"To me, I think it's so important," she said. "It's the side that the public sees."

Through the retail operation, pick-your-own strawberries, blueberries, flowers, cherries, raspberries and more are offered in season. More recently, the market has started up a popular pumpkin patch, which is being expanded on every year, according to Orr-Dove. In the winter, gift baskets and Florida citrus become the focus.

"I feel like we have so much here people would want to see," Orr-Dove said. "So many times it's beautiful … and there's no one here to see it."

It is with that in mind that the market has been ramping up on festivals, farm tours and other events.

While the market is seeking to increase the visibility of the birthday parties and bonfire and hayride farm tours it offers, field trips bring many different groups to the farm — something that holds a special place for Orr-Dove.

"So many kids don't get a chance to get out on a farm and see things grow," she said. 

In the past few years, Orr-Dove credits this generation's concerns over costs and health for renewing interest in farming and farmer's markets.

"I see the retail picking up more than anything," she said. "I see a lot of room for growth. We can be creative. We can make it whatever we want it to be."