Henderson County is blessed with many positive attributes which make our community a great place to live, work and raise a family. Being located in an idyllic location that experiences four seasons and has spectacular scenery is a gift we all appreciate. Having an economy that boasts a low unemployment rate of 4.2%, which is the 5th lowest in the state, is something we have worked diligently to attain. Much of that success can be attributed to the four economic engines that drive Henderson County’s economy – retirement, manufacturing, tourism and agribusiness.
Apples have been the king crop for many generations in our community – so much so that we have a major festival each year to celebrate the apple crop and pay homage to its significant impact on our local economy. But today, ornamentals now have outgrown apples as the leading cash producing crop in Henderson County. There is also emphasis now being placed on berries as new cash crops for local farmers. Change in nothing new to the farming community though, as through the years we have experienced ebbs and flows of many different crops and farming operations. Farmers and growers have proven to be innovators and very adaptive to changing market conditions.
Henderson County remains #1 in apple production for the state. On average, Henderson County produces 85% of the entire NC apple crop. You can buy orchard-fresh apples at 28 direct farm markets in Hendersonville. Over 5,500 acres are dedicated to apple crops on 150 orchards in Henderson County. During a normal year apple crops bring in an average income of $22 million PLUS.
In addition to apples, Henderson County is quickly becoming known as the “Berry Capital of the East”. 2015 is poised to be the best year yet for many of the county’s 20 blueberry growers, mainly due to the spring growing season. Since the spring began dry, it hampered the growth of fungal diseases and insects, but the late season rainfall ensures the berries will ripen into the summer. Henderson County also has about 188 acres of blackberry and raspberry crops.
Growth in berry production can be attributed to previous year’s success and work by many in the local agribusiness sector to attract and retain big time produce buyers who have taken an interest in Henderson County grown berries. The potential growth in this area is exciting!
Ornamentals remain the leading agricultural crop in Henderson County and that industry is led by Van Wingerden International. Many of us attended Van Wingerden’s open houses and saw the amazing work they do with Poinsettias. Although Poinsettias are beautiful, the real economic producers are the many, many varieties of ornamental plants grown for the retail garden market. Van Wingerden is joined by many other ornamental producers around Henderson County – making ornamentals the largest cash crop in the community.
Ornamentals, apples and berries are three of the large producers in Henderson County and the community enjoys a variety of other crops as well – sweet corn, strawberries, tomatoes and much more. We also have several livestock operations. Henderson County is blessed with a wonderful agribusiness industry.
Our strong agribusiness sector has an added benefit for all of us – fresh and tasty local produce! Tailgate markets, farmer's markets and roadside produce stands abound throughout Henderson County from April through October. Not only providing us with access to foods that taste good, these stands provide healthy options. Check out www.southernmountainfresh.com to find out what is in season and where to buy it…locally of course! We hope you will enjoy the fruits of Henderson County’s agribusiness industry.