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Goodness grows here! – The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald

Goodness grows here! – The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald
Goodness grows here! – The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald

This is the place the great grows!

Published 5:51 p.m. Tuesday, November 29, 2022

SEVERN – For a city of fewer than 200 full-time residents, Severn is a bustling place on a solar-kissed, breezy late autumn morning.

Only a part of Hampton Farms’ sprawling operations dwarfs the US Post Office in downtown Severn. Founded in 1947 because the Severn Peanut Company, the corporate not too long ago celebrated its seventy fifth anniversary. Cal Bryant workers photograph

Eighteen wheels rumble forwards and backwards on a stretch of Main Street in entrance of a tiny brick U.S. put up workplace. Ditto for normal-sized automobiles and vehicles… in addition to “whirring” sounds made by a fleet of forklifts, some loaded with gadgets, others on their method to pickup.

Meanwhile, the whistle of a freight practice pierces the crisp morning air and slowly pulls by the guts of the town because it makes its manner north to the CSX principal line in close by Boykins, VA.

Welcome to a different day within the lifetime of Hampton Farms… aka the Severn Peanut Company, whose 75-yr-outdated enterprise occupies a lot of the town and dramatically will increase the weekday inhabitants.

Hampton Farms, the premier roaster of in-shell peanuts within the United States, stays household-owned and operated since its inception in 1947. Even earlier than that point, George Dallas Barnes began farming in 1917, dabbling within the enterprise of shopping for peanuts from different native producers. Other Severn households concerned on the time had been Britt (Charlie and Ralph) and Watson (Royal and Parker).

“It was my father, Garland Dallas (“Mutt”) Barnes, who wanted to start shelling peanuts after World War II,” mentioned G. Dallas Barnes, who has served because the Hampton Farms household chief since 1990.

G. Dallas Barnes has served because the chief of the Hampton Farms household of firms since 1990. Headquartered in Severn, the diversified firm has operations all through the United States. Cal Bryant workers photograph

Barnes defined that in these days, peeling vegetation had been constructed primarily of wooden or brick and had been 4 to 6 tales excessive. The peanuts had been lifted up and shelled on the highest ranges after which gravity fed from level to level. The completed product was packed into baggage (100 to 110 kilos) and transported readily available vehicles, roughly six baggage at a time.

“It was very manual work,” Barnes remarked.

From this difficult work got here the concept of ​​progress.

Meherrin Agricultural and Chemical was fashioned in 1958 to offer grower companies to farmers within the southeastern United States.

By 1989, the Hampton Farms identify was established, synonymous with a full vary of companies because it roasts, packages and markets its completed merchandise on to prospects.

Before the flip of the twenty firstSt During the late 1900s, the corporate acquired a number of different nut producers, starting in 1996 with Martinelli’s Peanuts in Springfield, Massachusetts. A yr later, the Portales Select Peanut Company of New Mexico was added, increasing the attain of the North Carolina operation to the western half of the nation.

In 2003, Hampton Farms acquired Jimbo’s Jumbos in Edenton. Two years later, Olde Tyme Foods in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts joined the Hampton Farms household.

After an intensive cleansing to take away filth and different particles gathered throughout the harvesting course of, these peanuts go down a conveyor belt en path to sizing. Cal Bryant workers photograph

Another New England-based firm got here on board in 2011 when Hampton Farms acquired Ava’s Dried Fruits and Snacks. The Tanner Nut Company of Tarboro joined Hampton Farms that very same yr.

2017 noticed growth into Lubbock, Texas, the place Hampton Farms opened a nut butter facility. Three years later, the Ready Roast Nut Company of Madera, California was acquired.

The firm’s current acquisitions are Stone Creek Foods (moved from New York to Springfield, MA in 2020) and Houston’s Peanuts of Dublin, NC (2022).

Despite this progress, the corporate stays true to its founding ideas.

“Upholding honesty, integrity and fairness has gotten us where we are today,” mentioned Barnes. “Yes, we have expanded our operations into different states and areas, however our roots stay deep right here in northeast North Carolina and southeast Virginia.

“Our primary shelling facilities are in Severn where we clean, shell, grade and bag raw peanuts and peanuts,” defined Barnes. “Our in-shell peanuts are roasted and packaged in Severn, while bulk peanut butter and jarred peanut butter are manufactured in Franklin, VA. Over in Edenton, we blanch peanuts, make peanut butter, roast in oil and honey, and bag nuts. The head office of Meherrin Ag is located in Severn, as is the distribution center for crop protection products. They also treat wheat, cotton and soybean seeds at Pendleton.”

Overall, Barnes mentioned the workforce exceeds 300.

“We are fortunate to be where we will have employees from Northampton County, as well as Hertford County, Halifax County and Southampton County in Virginia; We even have some that drive in from the Emporia, VA area,” Barnes mentioned. “We are proud to employ local people who we feel blessed to be part of our company.”

Sam Cannon, supervisor of the Severn shelling manufacturing facility, evaluations the progress of the operation. Cal Bryant workers photograph

Hampton Farms workers in any respect places obtain common coaching on the right way to course of edible merchandise. The vegetation have established protocols that promote secure dealing with and processing of the varied merchandise.

“Food safety is huge,” Barnes famous. “When we started investing in new facilities, we had food safety and quality in mind. The knowledge we now possess about manufacturing and tracing foodborne diseases makes it imperative that we stay at the forefront and continue to invest wisely in these areas.”

While investments in meals security and elevated gear automation preserve Hampton Farms on the prime of its sport, none of that is attainable with out the important thing ingredient of this booming enterprise – top quality peanuts grown within the Carolinas and Virginia.

Typically, Hampton Farms enters into buy agreements with peanut producers throughout the months of January and February. When these vegetation are harvested in October/November, the peanuts arrive in giant portions. They are sorted by the federal government after which saved in warehouses. The subsequent cease is the hulling plant, the place step one is an intensive cleansing to take away filth and different particles gathered throughout the harvesting course of.

The peanuts are then sized, leaving the most important within the shell, and stemmed (eradicating the “tails” from the place they had been as soon as connected to the vine).

Freshly roasted peanuts fall onto a conveyor belt that transports them to the packaging space of ​​the plant. Cal Bryant workers photograph

“The smaller grades are hulled and then sized, graded and packed into 2,000 pound bins or brought here in bulk,” defined Barnes. “If it’s not immediately processed from there for shipment to customers, it goes to our cold storage facilities in Severn, Garysburg, Windsor, Edenton or Courtland, Virginia, until it’s time for processing.”

Barnes mentioned Hampton Farms is extraordinarily blessed with growers who pleasure themselves on rising a top quality product.

“We have excellent peanut growers and other crop growers. We need to offer solutions that help them operate and thrive,” he confused.

While the varied merchandise below the Hampton Farms identify can be found in shops, together with grocery shops, and on-line by the web site, these peanuts could be bought at main league baseball stadiums nationwide.

“We’ve had this contract since the ’90s,” Barnes mentioned. “We also have contracts with individual colleges like NC State, UNC, and others.”

Barnes did not rule out increasing the corporate’s rising portfolio.

“We have an R&D team that is constantly looking for new products and flavors. You do an excellent job. Also, strategically, we are always looking for opportunities,” he famous.

Another supply of pleasure throughout the firm is Meherrin on a Mission.

“We started a ministry team about 15 years ago,” Barnes recollects. “As a result, we brought in Corporate Chaplains of America, Caring Teams, Helping Hands, Life Lessons over Lunch, Prayer Teams, and other things. Our employees exemplify this in an excellent way.”

A 5 pound bag of Hampton Farms roasted peanuts is able to be shipped to a buyer. Cal Bryant workers photograph

From this, Meerrin on Mission was born.

“It’s really about serving others and giving back to our communities and employees,” Barnes mentioned. “Our mission is to create a work environment where the seed of God’s Word can grow and bear fruit. We provide disaster relief, college scholarships for our local employees and customers, and missionary work with local and international government departments.”

A bit of the previous – a part of a burlap sack emblazoned with the corporate’s founding identify – is on show at Hampton Farms’ workplaces in downtown Severn. Cal Bryant workers photograph

Finally, Barnes spoke in regards to the legacy of the Barnes/Britt/Watson households and the way the subsequent technology is getting ready to construct on that stable basis.

“Today we’re proud to be the third generation… myself, Paige (Pinnix, his sister), Rick (McGee), RP (Watson), Jody (Barkley) and Jim (Davis). The fourth generation of leaders is being trained… I have five of my children who work here, RP’s daughter works here, Paige’s son works here. We have many talented employees who know and understand this business. Hopefully we’ll slip over and they’ll do an excellent job for generations to come.”

And meaning downtown Severn will stay the bustling coronary heart of the peanut universe.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-yr newspaper business veteran, is an editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, writer of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, the Gates County Index and Front Porch Living journal.

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