Glascock’s Produce in Morgan County has been doing it for more than 20 years.
Glascock’s Produce is a household name among Eastern Panhandle market-goers. They’ve been at the Berkeley Springs Farmers Market since the market started up in 2002, and at one time they worked seven markets in the region. They’re that go-to vendor that always has the season’s most luscious staples: mountains of sweet corn, rainbows of heirloom tomatoes, melons heavy with sugary juices, jolly round pumpkins.
They also have so very much more, and we’ll get to that. What’s truly unusual about Glascock Produce is that it’s a self-sustaining business. “We don’t have any other job,” says co-owner Laura Glascock of herself and her husband, Mark. “This is totally what we do.” That’s impressive because, for many farmers, the business of growing food doesn’t pay anymore. Since around the turn of the millennium, more than half of farmers nationwide report taking additional work to patch together livelihoods. Chat up your favorite growers during a slowdown at the local farmers’ market and they’ll tell you tales of full-time day jobs off the farm and side businesses ranging from construction to landscaping to house painting.
The Glascocks’ success comes, in part, from their backstory. Once upon a time, the Glascock patriarch split his 600-acre dairy farm and orchard among his three sons. Today those Glascock brothers run three land-based businesses. One has the original orchard. One has a separate orchard. A third runs a game bird preserve. Glascock’s Produce, started in 1992, is a third-generation business on the property.
The truck farm doesn’t get the land for free—Laura and her husband Mark have leased the 45 acres they farm from Mark’s father since 1992. But what that particular property and family history did was to keep a close-knit family of hard-working entrepreneurs within arm’s reach of each other. Today, among the four businesses, the original 600 acres supports a clan of—oh, about 30, plus some contracted help. “I don’t even know how many of us there are. That’s just a quick estimate,” Laura laughs. “Everybody helps everybody out.”
Family help is part of how they make it work. The Glascocks also cultivate relationships in the wider community that, in emergencies, inspire neighborly pitching in. “Like, there was a frost warning the other night,” Laura said in mid-May, when some fruit trees were at a critical blossom stage. “We called the neighbors out to help us put out frost pots. In turn, we help them out with plants and help them prepare their gardens, teach them how to grow things. Some put their own few trees out and they ask our advice.”
On top of all that, the Glascocks work hard—really hard. Farming all week, markets on the weekends. “Sometimes when we get home from the market it’s unload, load for the next day, water, and go to bed,” Laura says. But, she jokes, “we get to pick our own 80 hours a week that we want to work.”
What comes of all that is such a bounty that it’s hard to summarize. “We start out in the spring selling plants, like heirloom and commercial tomatoes and peppers, annuals, and herbs, along with hanging baskets.” Early greens give way to tender asparagus, firm broccoli, and technicolor beets, and those to all of the summer and fall favorites plus less common market finds like eggplant, artichokes, and Brussels sprouts. “But we’re known for our sweet corn,” Laura says. “The best ever, everywhere.”
Then there are the fruits: strawberries, blueberries, sweet cherries, apricots, and plums. Peaches and nectarines. Watermelons and cantaloupes. And the apples—so many varieties—and apple cider, and cherry apple cider.
And don’t forget the preserves and baked goods. “We take our produce to Froopers in Romney, and they use our recipes, make it, and package it for us,” Laura says. She makes blueberry, strawberry, and peach jam herself. “I do my grandma’s secret-recipe fruit bread—when there are strawberries, I’ll make strawberry bread, peaches I’ll make peach bread, apples, pumpkins. And when the honeycrisp apples come in, I make apple dumplings and I use the whole apple and that’s becoming real popular.”
Laura and Mark produce the kind of variety that makes people want to eat local. They’ve scaled back their market activity in northern Virginia a little. But they remain fully committed to the Berkeley Springs market, and they’re still going strong. “It keeps us out of trouble,” Laura says. “We really do love it.” glascocksproduce.com; 304.258.1431