Village Fields Hemp is a Georgia based hemp production company that is looking to have a big impact on farming in Southside Virginia and its surrounding areas. Focusing on the CBD oil market, the company was able to branch out into South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia in 2019. Farmers contracted through the program grow outdoor crops paid for and cultivated by Village Fields Hemp as well as receiving a cost share on the back end sell of the biomass. In its first year, the company partnered with farmers to plant 2.6 million seeds on over 750 acres of land.
Mr. Phil Jennings serves as the CEO of Village Fields Hemp and is an 11th generation farmer. He holds a B.S.A. in Agribusiness from The College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia. His focus is helping companies, that are just starting out, to get their foot in the door by providing a smooth transition into the new industry. Phil and his father own a blueberry farm in Canada, where hemp has been legal to grow for many years. “At the end of last years season, while I was back in Georgia, Village Farms, who is our partner in Village Fields Hemp, reached out and said that they had a desire to get into the outdoor growing of high CBD hemp. They had experience not only in hemp but also in diverse agriculture. So we formed that relationship and really got it going this year but it was from those years of growing in Canada that kind of provided the opportunity for us to start a program in the U.S.”
Phil decided to bring his business to South Hill after developing a friendship with local father and son farmers, Billy and Sterling Wilkinson. “They were helping to actually put together the farmers in the area and so [I was] working with them to kind of help manage the grower base. It was just kind of a natural fit. [South Hill] was a hub or central location for the bulk of our farmers in the North Carolina and Virginia area. That was how we ended up in South Hill.” says Jennings. He found connections to the area that he never knew he had through family friends and his travels back and forth to the companies Canadian operation. “It was just South Hill in my mind. Just a stop along 85 on my trip. I would stop and eat at Risin’ Smoke when I passed through, because I saw a good YELP review and I would stay at the Hampton Inn because it was right off the interstate.” he continued “I met Billy and Sterling through a mutual friend and our personalities matched really well. We were able to develop a really good working relationship together.”
Being a farmer himself, Mr. Jennings knows how tough farm life can be, especially during this time, and he hopes to help local farmers as much as he can. “Seeing farmers have their contracts cut really hit close to my heart. For me, the impact that I want is to have a program where yeah I’m looking out for the company because we have to make money to be a success but also working to make sure that these guys are able to see some money and larger money back per acre on their crops and keep that farm together, whether its a big family run operation or just a regular guy that has a passion for it.”
South Hill’s close proximity to the interstate and major cities made it a perfectly centralized location for local farmers, and those in surrounding areas. The Village Fields Hemp warehouse is located on West Atlantic Street right beside J.A. Barker Construction.