What was once a family homestead and left abandoned for ten years, Johnnie and Julann James have turned a plot of 39 acres in Bethel, North Carolina into a beautiful berry farm and vineyard. After thirty years of serving agriculture clients as a CPA in Florida, Johnnie developed a passion for farming and decided to endeavor a farm operation of his own. In 2011, he purchased the overgrown land in Bethel and spent the first six months transforming it into something new. A pond was dug onto the property for irrigation and a new barn was built using scraps from the old one.
Today, Bethel Valley Farms, LLC produces raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and grapes. They are currently in their third year production of raspberries and first year production of blueberries. While they used to supply Lowe's Foods, now they have transitioned to "you-pick." Bethel Valley continues to sell to wineries and breweries, including Grandfather Winery. When interviewed, Johnnie expressed pride in "taking a raw piece of land that was really overgrown and abandoned, and turning it into a producing farm. It's been very rewarding."
Bethel Valley is involved in many organizations, including the North America Blackberry Raspberry Grower's Association, the North Carolina Blackberry Raspberry Association, and the High Country Wine Growers Association.
"You-Pick" days are every day with the exception of farm maintenance days and bad weather. Changes in the "you-pick" schedule are updated and posted on the farm's Facebook page.
Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture
PO Box 67
Lower Level, 171 Grand Blvd
Boone, NC 28607
Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture (BRWIA) is dedicated to strengthening the High Country's local food system by supporting women and their families with resources, education, and skills related to sustainable food and agriculture.