Dean Wadel has a real passion for local food. Upon moving to the Shenandoah Valley in 2014, he was concerned about a missing link between farmers and the local residents who wanted their quality products. So he did something about it! From his diverse experience in farming across four states, he was just the man to do it!
Dean grew up on a small vegetable farm in Florida. Most of his family’s success came from being early to local markets in Spring and extending their harvests into late Fall. Snowbirds escaping cooler climates were happy to enjoy their fresh produce, especially their popular black-eyed peas and green beans! As a teen they moved to a dairy farm in Missouri where he gained experience in caring for livestock, milking cows, and selling raw milk. The family also continued their early and late market crop success through the use of greenhouses.
While his parents continued growing for markets and local stores in Missouri, Dean headed East to Pennsylvania in 2005. At a small family-owned dairy farm in Pennsylvania, Dean was exposed to production processes surrounding raw milk, cheeses and baked goods. He also helped his employer collaborate with other local farms to facilitate moving their produce and products into the hands of local residents. When he moved to Virginia, he put this knowledge to good use!
The move to Dayton, Virginia was prompted by a request to help a struggling small Church. While he immersed himself in this work and part-time construction, he couldn’t help but notice local farmers were struggling to get their goods to the community. “Everyone was trying to do their own thing. There was not an efficient network so everyone struggled,” he remarked. Dean seized the opportunity to serve as a crucial link between farmers and their neighbors.
The initial growth of Wadel’s Farm Wagon was slow but word spread about how Dean could address critical needs like refrigerated transportation, marketing, and connecting with customers who prioritized local food. His current reach includes numerous farmers markets as well as retail stores in Richmond, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, and DC. While Dean’s wife and six children help as they can, the expansion necessitated the addition of 4 staff members.
Dean has formed close relationships with many of the farmers and producers of Wadel’s, including Wayne Beery of Mountain Branch Creamery. He is grateful to partner with a producer of organic milk and cheese from 100% grass fed cows, especially considering the limited local dairy products in the state. This was especially exciting considering the limited number of local dairy products. Dean described Wayne by stating, “His attention to detail, accuracy and cleanliness is amazing. He truly cares about the health of his cows, soil, and grass. He goes above and beyond state requirements testing every batch of milk.”
Wadel’s provides delightful birdseed wreaths from the talented John and Wendy Venskoske. They craft them by hand from local Virginia grains, making them the perfect gift! Another thoughtful treat is popcorn from Green Acres! It’s special because it’s non-GMO, hand cleaned, and available in tasty colorful varieties. Other great gifts include jams, maple syrup and unique condiments like bacon or black pepper ketchup and apple cider mustard! In addition to great gifts and protein staples of milk, cheese and free-range eggs, Dean connects customers with producers of unique goods like tomato basil and garlic fusilli and pickled garlic and asparagus!
Customers and farmers alike benefit from the passionate labor of love behind Dean Wadel’s Farm Wagon. He thrives on bringing goods from diverse local farmers and producers to your table!