The Culpeper Farmers' Cooperative was created in the midst of the Great Depression. Unemployment was at nearly 25%, and there was a drought in the agricultural heartland of America. Both businesses and families defaulted on record numbers of loans, and more than 5,000 banks failed.
But in Culpeper, Virginia, farmers organized to pool their resources and production. While it was too expensive for each farmer to manufacture products or undertake a service on his own, the Culpeper Farmers' Cooperative provided a means for farmers to join together to achieve a better financial outcome than by going it alone. A local farmer could save much in the purchase of seeds, machinery, and other farming supplies by being a member of the Co-op.
The Co-op rented a building on Wausau Street, with a total of 205 members paying dues of $1,230. With a start-up loan of $10,000 at 6% interest, the Co-op saw sales of $84,435 in its first 14 months of operation, a remarkable accomplishment in those times.
After a fire destroyed the Wausau Street facility in 1959, the Culpeper Co-op moved to its present location on Brandy Road in 1960, and a fertilizer plant and feed mill were added. The present feed mill was constructed in 1976, increasing significantly the capabilities of the volume of feed produced. The remodeling of the current retail facility, featuring the distinctive cylindrical entry-way, was completed in 2006.
In Remington, the Co-op had opened its doors in a leased facility in 1940, and was able to purchase the Embry Building in downtown Remington by 1948. That same year, the warehouse and tanks across the street were purchased from the Remington Milling Company and added to the facility.
In 2006, the Remington store was moved when a new store was built about five miles south of Bealeton, and the Remington property sold. In its new location, it became the Morrisville CFC Farm & Home Center, located near the town of Morrisville, VA on Route 17.
The Rappahannock branch had been added in 1952, in a facility located in the village of Sperryville. In 1979, the Co-op purchased and renovated the former Rediviva Cold Storage Co-op and apple-packing shed and moved to its present location.
The Warrenton Co-op was formed in 1958 with the purchase of Beach's Feed Service located near the present restaurant, Claire's at the Depot. In 1967, the Co-op was relocated to its present site, with a new facility on six acres of land leased from the Southern Railroad. In 1982, the lawn and garden center was added.
In 1979, the Marshall store was added, with the purchase of the John W. Mills facility, and began its retail sales in 1980. By 1989, a new store was constructed, and opened for business in the spring.
Culpeper Farmers’ Cooperative is fast approaching 100 years in business, and we celebrate the services it provides in these communities and surrounding areas. CFC has remained a constant in the lives of local farmers, ranchers, 4-H Clubs, horse enthusiasts, and other members of the community. Personal service has always been the hallmark of the Co-op, as we recognize that our customers are our neighbors and family.
In all the years of its operation, Culpeper Farmers' Cooperative, Inc. has had only five presidents and six general managers. Some of the names on the original roll of officers and directors are still familiar 80 years later: President A. Gordon Willis, Vice President Lee Blankenbaker, Secretary Walter Pierce, and members C. E. Griffith, H. H. Hitt, W. B. Kilby, William J. Smith and E. Turpin Willis.
In the spring of 2005, the retail stores' names were changed to CFC Farm & Home Centers, to reflect the changes in the Co-op since its origins. No longer just for farmers and ranchers, the Co-op now sells not only feed and tack, but clothing and hats, house paint, cookbook, specialty toys and many other items for both farm and home.
If you have not visited a CFC Farm and Home Center, please do, soon. We look forward to seeing you!