a member of Virginia Farm Bureau’s Entrepreneur Advisory
Committee and serves as a board member of the Virginia
Strawberry Growers Association.
Nationally, Wegmeyer has been a member of a Bayer
CropScience sustainability program, has been an American Farm
Bureau Federation farmer representative, and has been a lobbyist
for American Farm Bureau.
“Being able to see firsthand how advocacy affects legislative
and regulatory decisions, it became very real to me that people
needed to understand better the importance of agriculture in
everyone’s lives,” he says. His experience and his geographic
location helped him to grow his farm in a way that would bring
people out to his farm so they could learn where their food comes
“We use modern agricultural technologies and practices with
science-based principles to grow crops with precision — all of
which leaves the land better off than when we found it,” he says.
He says his goal is to “create an awareness through education that
will enable not just our farm, but all of agriculture, to win in the
court of public opinion, and as a result, allow us to have policy
and regulations that can sustain us into the future for generations
He met his wife, Harriet, while working in Congress and
seeking part time work on a dairy farm. He contacted the
Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative and ended up
working on a dairy farm in West Virginia. Meanwhile, people at the
milk cooperative introduced him to Harriet, a Cornell University
graduate hired to handle their communications.
Harriet works on the farm. “We are a great team; our strengths
complement each other,” says Tyler. Harriet also has an impressive
off-farm career as executive director for the Nutrients for Life
Foundation organized by The Fertilizer Institute.
On the local level, Harriet has been a Master Gardener from
2010 until 2014. She is president and has served as a board
member of Lincoln Community League, is active in the Lincoln
Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization, and has been a
Farm Bureau School Education and reading program volunteer.
She is a member of the National Agri-Marketing Association,
and has served on the board of Cornell University College of
Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumni Association.
Harriet is especially good at outreach and community
involvement, bringing youth and families to the farm for school
spirit nights, and running an expansive field trip program that
draws thousands of children to the farm each season. “She
reaches out to schools, and is a great spokesperson for not only
our farm, but for all of agriculture,” says Tyler.
Tyler and Harriet have three young school-age sons, Torsten,
Tucker, and Colden, who also work on the farm. Tyler and Harriet
also welcome their own parents to their farm each year to help
out during the busy seasons. Both of their parents retired from
“The bottom line in achieving our overall goal means that
my farm, my land, and my business will be able to be farmed by
future generations, including my three boys,” says Tyler.
Robert D. Grisso, Jr., with the Virginia Cooperative Extension
Service coordinates the Farmer of the Year award in the state.
Wegmeyer was nominated for the honor by Jim Hilleary,
Extension agent in Loudoun County. Hilleary says he admires
Wegmeyer’s work ethic and creativity in coming up with the idea
for satellite farms. Hilleary says each crop Wegmeyer plants is an
invitation to stop and learn about agriculture, and that Wegmeyer
is also a strong supporter of Extension.
As the Virginia winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo
award, Wegmeyer will receive a $2,500 cash award and an
expense paid trip to the Sunbelt Expo from Swisher International
of Jacksonville, Fla., a $500 gift certificate from the Southern
States cooperative, and a Columbia vest from Ivey’s Outdoor and
He is now eligible for the $15,000 cash prize awarded to the
overall winner. Other prizes for the overall winner include use of
a Massey Ferguson tractor for a year from Massey Ferguson North
America, another $500 gift certificate from the Southern States
cooperative, a Columbia jacket from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm
Supply, and a smoker-grill from Hays LTI.
Swisher International, through its Swisher Sweets cigar brand,
and the Sunbelt Expo are sponsoring the Southeastern Farmer
of the Year awards for the 27th consecutive year. Swisher has
contributed $1.04 million in cash awards and other honors to
southeastern farmers since the award was initiated in 1990.
Previous state winners from Virginia include Nelson Gardner
of Bridgewater, 1990; Russell Inskeep of Culpepper, 1991; Harry
Bennett of Covington, 1992; Hilton Hudson of Alton, 1993;
Buck McCann of Carson, 1994; George M. Ashman, Jr. of Amelia,
1995; Bill Blalock of Baskerville, 1996; G. H. Peery III of Ceres,
1997; James Bennett of Red House, 1998; Ernest Copenhaver of
Meadowview, 1999; John Davis of Port Royal, 2000.
James Huffard III of Crockett, 2001; J. Hudson Reese of
Scottsburg, 2002; Charles Parkerson of Suffolk, 2003; Lance Everett
of Stony Creek, 2004; Monk Sanford of Orange, 2005; Paul House
of Nokesville, 2006; Steve Berryman of Surry, 2007; Tim Sutphin
of Dublin, 2008; Billy Bain of Dinwiddie, 2009; Wallick Harding of
Jetersville, 2010; Donald Horsley of Virginia Beach, 2011; Maxwell
Watkins of Sutherland, 2012; Lin Jones of New Canton, 2013;
Robert T. “Tom” Nixon II of Rapidan, 2014; and Donald Turner of
North Dinwiddie, 2015.
Virginia has had two overall winners, Nelson Gardner of
Bridgewater in 1990, and Charles Parkerson of Suffolk in 2003.
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