Messick’s Farm Market has become a community destination for fresh local products of all kinds as well as seasonal events and activities.
Story and photos by Lindsay Hogeboom
For more than a century, the Messick family served Fauquier County community members through their dairy farm in Bealeton, Virginia. “We were dairy farmers the whole time up until November [of 2020] when we decided that dairying was no longer the business we wanted to go with because it wasn’t what it used to be,” says Jimmy Messick, who runs the farm with his brother, Ronnie.
Today, the Messick family continues to serve the local community, but primarily through farming fresh produce and providing agritourism. “Back in 2008 my brother and I had a conversation about the farm and where it was going,” says Jimmy. “We talked about diversification into either processing our milk and selling our milk products or building a market.” That conversation was put on hold until a few years later when a neighbor with farmette had an enterprise that had outgrown his land, and he approached Jimmy about a partnership. Jimmy recalls, “He asked me if I would help him grow vegetables for his [Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program], and I said, ‘Yeah…I’ll help you, but I don’t know anything about it.’ He said, ‘Well, I’ve got the equipment so I can help, and together we can do it.’” Jimmy set aside a plot of land on his farm and began growing vegetables.
As they were growing produce for the CSA, it became apparent that the Messicks’ farm was in an ideal location for opening a storefront. “The whole time we were doing it we could see all the traffic going by through the woods on the highway, and local food was starting to get some footing, so we decided maybe it was time to go on and build a market,” says Jimmy. “By 2013 we were in full produce production…anticipating having the market open,” and in spring of 2014, Messick’s Farm Market officially opened. “We built it with zero customer base…and it took us awhile. There were some sleepless nights for the first four or five years, but now it’s doing well.” And, Jimmy explains, the agritourism portion of the business “initially was not on the to-do list, but after we saw all the interest people had in going out and learning more about the farm, it seemed like it was a natural thing to do.
According to Jimmy, the mission of the business today is “to provide fresh, healthy, local foods at a fair price, while managing the sustainability of our family farm.” The Messicks fulfill this mission through a variety of offerings: fresh foods in the farm market, meals at the market café, and a CSA program, as well as many special activities and events, such as “pick-your-own” harvesting experiences, a petting zoo, hayrides and farm tours, seasonal festivals, and more.
“The mission also goes back to a story,” says Jimmy. “Jim Hankins — the guy who runs the Fauquier Education Farm in Warrenton — [told] me a story that one of the most amazing things he ever witnessed was a mother and her son digging potatoes, and the mother realizing that potatoes grew under the ground. It’s that type of thing that I’m trying to help [do] with our community here — understanding how food is grown and what we do.”
Jimmy also says that to honor their mission, there is another aspect of the business that the Messicks emphasize: customer service. “We try to go beyond what you might expect a business like this to do,” he says. “We’re faith-based here…[and] we come in to work on Sundays with a serving heart.”
The Messicks don’t contain their quality customer service within the market’s walls — they continue to bring joy to community members through numerous events, from a summer sunflower festival to regular cruise-ins featuring cool cars, live music, food, and frozen custard. Destiny Read, a Bealeton resident and Messick’s Farm Market patron, says, “We go to the cruise-in every time they have it. We love it!” And the end of summer doesn’t mean the end of events. During the fall, “our pumpkin festival usually goes for six weekends,” Jimmy says. “It was very successful last year,” and with a giant corn maze, bale mazes, hayrides, a bounce pillow, underground slides, pebble pits, mini pumpkin painting, a petting zoo and more, it isn’t hard to imagine why. Katie Butler, a Midland resident and event attendee, says, “I enjoy their spring craft fair! It was great to have all the local vendors. I can’t pass up getting a cherry pie too!”
Regarding future plans for the business, Jimmy says, “We’ve got lots of future plans — probably more than I will live to see.” At the top of that list is expanding the farm and market to include a fully functioning winery. “We’re trying to think of a way to do an open-air building where we could move our wine display and expand our wine and hard cider, and maybe some locally-crafted beers,” he explains. Currently, the farm market sells wine that is made from fruits grown on the Messicks’ farm that is crafted and bottled through a partnership with Magnolia Vineyards in Amissville. “We just bottled our third harvest, and this year with the strawberry, blackberry and elderberry we did 14,000 bottles so far,” Jimmy says. “Glen, the owner, says, ‘Jimmy, I built this thing to do 25,000 bottles a year and you’re over half of it. You need to find your own facility.’ So now we’re looking to see where we can do a winery.”
For now, Jimmy says, “I hope that people look at this as an alternative to buying things that aren’t local and [aren’t] as fresh.” And, as the business continues to grow it will go on serving local residents in both established and new ways. “Whenever there’s a successful business in the community, it makes the community stronger,” he says.
Messick’s Farm Market
6025 Catlett Rd., Bealeton