As Virginians’ appetite for sweet potatoes is increasing, local growers are harvesting more than enough to meet consumers’ holiday needs. According to the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture, 261 Virginia farms produced sweet potatoes for fresh market consumption, more than double the 120 farms that grew them in 2012. Harvested acreage also has increased, from132 acres in 2012 to 223 acres in 2017.
Roy Flanagan, who grows sweet potatoes at Flanagan Farm in Virginia Beach, attributed the increased production to farmers expanding direct-to-consumer offerings to improve their bottom lines.
“Sweet potatoes are getting more market share everywhere, and consumers are demanding them more,” Flanagan told augustafreepress.com. “As the market grows, and we see the merits of going direct-to-consumer over wholesale, you need to come up with ways to extend your season and extend your cash flow. And sweet potatoes continue to grow in popularity, period.”