In 1964, Ned A. Cottle, a 3rd generation farmer of berries, planted his first field of Strawberries, after taking the advice from his father-in-law, David J. Price, Sr., in Faison, N.C. Mr. Cottle saw a demand for “U-Pick” strawberries, and decided to increase his production for both the retailers as well as the need for a direct to consumer production.
For this expansion, he began growing two acres of strawberries at a Goldsboro, N.C. location, which was his first "U-pick" farm. The market for "U-pick" berries gradually increased as did Mr. Cottle's desire to meet that need. He also noticed the reduced risk in "U-pick" farms than in growing berries to be sold commercially because California was rapidly taking over the commercial sales of strawberries.
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Ned’s son, Ron, a 4th generation farmer, grew up helping his father on the farms. In 1987, Ron graduated from North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C., and came back home to develop his talents as a grower and to get into the nursery business, which is today’s Cottle Strawberry Nursery, Inc., est. in 1991.
Today’s business encompasses three major areas. The first is the actual farming operations which Ron manages for his father. The second is the alliances Ron has formed with other growers to provide a great variety and availability of fruits and vegetables. These alliances allow Cottle Farms, Inc. and the other growers to sell and ship the grower's products through Cottle Strawberry Nursery, Inc. The last is the production of strawberry plant stock, which is based in Prince Edward Island, Canada. In cooperation as a joint venture with Westech Agriculture Limited, Cottle Strawberry Nursery, Inc. has become one of the leading strawberry plant suppliers on the East coast.
Today, Cottle Strawberry Nursery, Inc. has broadened its horizons to growing and shipping product from other regions in the United States, as well as an international program with blueberries from Chile, Peru, Argentina and British Columbia.