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Co-op has grown with community since 1932
Culpeper Farmers' Co-op marks 80 years of service

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Date published: 10/5/2012

BY DONNIE JOHNSTON

Like agriculture in Culpeper, Rappahannock and Fauquier counties, the Culpeper Farmers' Cooperative has been in a constant state of change during its 80-year existence.

Even the name has changed. It's now known as the CFC Farm and Home Center.

One thing has remained constant, however: The company has always been owned by farmers and adapted to their needs.

"We still cater to the rural lifestyle, CFC general manager David Durr says. "If it eats or grows, we can help you take care of it."

The co-op, which celebrates its 80th birthday this month and will be part of this weekend's Culpeper Farm Tour, was founded in 1932 during some of the darkest days of the Great Depression. That year, 205 area farmers anted up a total of $1,230 of their own money and borrowed $10,000 more. The Culpeper Farmers' Cooperative, which everyone called the Farm Bureau back then, was born.

In little more than a year the co-op racked up more than $85,000 in sales, an unbelievable figure for a new business in a small town during the hardest of economic times.

Last year, with stores in Culpeper, Marshall, Warrenton, Morrisville and Sperryville, CFC did about $35 million in business.

"It seems like [the company's founders] were pretty successful," Durr says.

When it opened its doors 80 years ago, almost everyone in the area was involved in agriculture in one way or another. There were dairy farms and beef farms operated mostly with horse and mule power.

The poultry business was booming. Eggs were shipped out of Culpeper by train daily, and large flocks of turkeys were fattened annually for the Thanksgiving and Christmas markets.

In those days, almost every household, even in town, had a few chickens, a milk cow and a couple of fattening hogs. People back then shopped for laying mash or hog feed the way people grocery shop today.

In the 1940s and '50s, the co-op even had its own service station. Farmers could buy gas, oil and tires there when they made their weekly trip to town for feed on Saturday.


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WHAT: Culpeper Harvest Days Farm Tour WHEN: This weekend, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days WHERE: Tour begins at Welcome Center at Culpeper Agricultural Enterprises off U.S. 29 INFO: culpeperfarmtour.com