FFA to start selling fruit, raising funds

By Katie Demeria

This year, local chapters of the Future Farmers of American are continuing their largest annual fundraiser by providing local residents with fresh fruit — from Florida.

The FFA chapters belonging to local high schools sell a variety of food during their end-of-year fundraiser, but Abbi Copp, agriculture teacher at Strasburg High School and FFA adviser, said Florida fruit, including oranges and grapefruit, plus more, is the chapter’s main product. Strasburg also sells apples from the Woodbine Farmers Market.

Copp said the fundraiser is very successful.

“We really try to play up the fresh part of it, because our fruit comes in on Monday [Dec.] 8th, and they pick it on the Friday before in Florida, so it gets packed Saturday,” she said. “Everything we sell is very fresh, and we’re really proud of that.”

Kim Black, agriculture teacher and FFA adviser at Robert E. Aylor Middle School, said the fundraiser is statewide and has been in place since the mid-1970s.

Frederick County, Black pointed out, has expanded the sale so it includes meats such as country ham and bacon, along with apples from the county, including apple cider from Rinker’s Orchard in Stephens City.

The fundraiser encourages residents to buy locally, Black added.

“It’s a really big fundraiser for all the FFA chapters,” she said. “It takes a lot of money running our programs, that’s no secret.”

The fundraiser, which raises thousands, according to Black, funds almost all the activities in which each chapter participates. From attending state and national conventions to developing community service projects, students depend on the fundraiser to fund various opportunities.

And, Black said, it has become so popular that residents will now call in without seeing the advertisements to find out when they can fill out an order form.

“I would say, in Frederick County, we sell about four tractor trailer loads of fruit,” she said.

Each school offers different foods to choose from. Sherando High School sells fresh meat as well as Florida fruit, and even offers frozen shrimp, cream cheese dips and cake roles, among other choices, according to Chrissy Whitaker, agriculture teacher and FFA advisor.

Copp said the fundraiser, which involves students going to neighbors and others in the area to sell their products, helps students develop their speaking skills.

“We practice sales techniques, and any sort of public speaking is beneficial, no matter if you’re going into a job to speak in front of a group of people or not,” Copp said.

And Whitaker said FFA in general provides opportunities to students that they may not otherwise have.

“Everyone is getting a little further away from the farm every year,” she said. “It’s important for kids to know where their food comes from. And [FFA is] so hands-on, it gives them so many experiences they can take with them when they leave.”

Schools will start selling between the end of this week and next until the end of October. Products will be delivered in December.

Call your local school to make an order. Strasburg can be reached at 540-465-5195, Sherando at 540-869-0060, and Aylor at 540-869-3736.

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com