McConnell Farms Inc. (MFI) was established in the 1940’s with the marriage of Reid and Claire McConnell, both of whom had experience growing tobacco. In the early years, like many NC farms, tobacco was a prominent crop (along with beef cattle). Over the years, as the McConnell family grew, so did the farm – with the addition of dairy cattle. With this addition came the need for additional acreage to grow feed for the livestock. It was at that time that tobacco production was set aside in favor of additional row crops. The farm continued in this fashion until the mid-1960’s when the dairy cattle were sold and apple trees were planted.
While waiting for the apples to reach production age, additional acreage was rented for the production of row crops and processing vegetables. In 1985, Danny McConnell received his Bachelor of Science in Horticulture with a specialization in Fruits and Vegetables from North Carolina State University at which time he returned to the farm and continued its diversification with the construction of greenhouses for growing vegetable transplants.
Diversification continues at McConnell Farms with the introduction of new apple varieties and small fruits (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries) and specialty vegetables (asparagus, rhubarb, greenhouse tomatoes, lettuce, ginger, cucumbers and peppers). Focusing on small fruits and specialty vegetables, the farm now has expanded to an on-site seasonal direct market retail outlet while also maintaining its wholesale vegetable and apple production. Recent areas of expansion have included expanded retail sales, the addition of delicious value-added products like jams and preserves, homemade ice cream, dried fruit snacks, specialty fruit ciders, sparkling ciders and vegetable juices.
Today, McConnell Farms is positively impacting the food supply in several ways. Through our retail facility, we provide fresh fruits such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, apples, peaches, figs, plums and Asian pears; vegetables including asparagus, cucumbers, peppers, sweet corn, fresh ginger, rhubarb, lettuce, onions, sweet potatoes and greenhouse tomatoes; and our wholesale distribution supplies two big-box distribution centers, as well as some of our most prominent local grocery chains.