April 23rd, 2020
Jennifer Cody of Cody Family Farm and Chef Mary Jayne Wilson of Amelie’s French Bakery & Cafe met through mutual connections in the Richfield, North Carolina community where they live and work. The year was 2008, and as the saying goes, it was the beginning of a very sweet relationship.
For nearly 100 years, Cody’s family has been a staple of North Carolina’s agribusiness. In the early 1900s the Codys built their farm on 30 acres of land mainly producing soybeans, corn, and wheat straw. In 2007, over a century after the farm’s founding, Jennifer joined the family business after putting aside her career as a nurse. Soon after, Jennifer grew the family’s first strawberry crops, placing her mark on the century-old farm. Today, it is clear that Jennifer’s keen decision is paying dividends. The family-operated farm has expanded to more than 150 acres of strawberries. Today, the Cody Strawberry Farm grows Chandler strawberries, small berries with a low tolerance to heat, and Camarosa strawberries, which have a higher tolerance to heat and are larger in size, helping Jennifer and her family hedge their bets against variable weather conditions.
With three generations of Codys all operating the family farm, additional crops on their estate include blueberries, blackberries, and tomatoes. Despite the plentiful options, the Cody’s strawberries remain the standout for Chef Mary Jayne Wilson – the executive chef and operations director at Amelie’s. Wilson has made it a priority to use local ingredients in her eatery’s cakes, muffins and pastries. And the fresh strawberries from the Cody Family Farm are the star of the show!
Before sunrise, Jennifer is up preparing containers and orders, and prepping crews for the day. Between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., the family harvests strawberries while the fruits are still cold and in their premium state. Like Jennifer, the bakery awakens before sunrise to begin their day. Every morning, a share of the Codys berries arrive at Amelie’s French Bakery & Cafe where chef Mary and her team use them to create mouth-watering delicacies including strawberry lemonade, strawberry macarons, and strawberry éclairs.
As the farm-to-table model continues to grow for restaurants and cafes across the country, more communities are enjoying sustainable, local farms such as the Cody Strawberry Farm. For neighborhood eateries to meet the demand of customers’ love for locally-sourced ingredients, strong partnerships like that of Jennifer Cody and Mary Jayne Wilson’s will continue to be a sweet example.