Pomegranate Potential In Eastern Carolina

Farm Name: Stateline Berry Farm
Operator Name: John Shaw
Production: Fruit
Location: Gaston, Northampton County, NC
John Shaw and his daughter Julie run Stateline Berry Farm in Northampton County in the Roanoke Valley. They specialize in produce, particularly fruit trees and shrubs. John is the 3rd generation farmer from the Roanoke Valley; his father growing tobacco, strawberries, peanuts, and other produce. Most of John’s experience is as an irrigation and landscaping specialist which he had done for 35 years. His profession helps him with his farming endeavors, especially in an area like eastern North Carolina, where the weather can be very hot and dry at times.

John and Julie were looking for ways to diversify their operation by cultivating a rare crop for the eastern United States. Pomegranate trees are typically grown in arid environments on the western coast of the United States, in states such as California and Arizona. Pomegranate’s are traditionally from Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions, where there is a long dry summer and a mild wet season. Pomegranates thrive in the Southwestern portion of the United States because it is the most similar region to where the fruit originated. After doing some research, Shaw was confident that some pomegranate tree varieties could also thrive on the east coast as well. There are no commercial pomegranate operations in North Carolina or in the eastern United States, however most of the consumers buying pomegranates, or products derived from pomegranates, are in the eastern U.S. If Shaw could offer a more locally grown pomegranate that is fresher and more sustainable with decreased shipping expenses, he could have a competitive advantage over growers on the opposite side of the country.

John and Julie hope that the pomegranate project will be a test pilot for growing pomegranates in eastern North Carolina. They also believe that if the pomegranates are successful in North Carolina, other farmers could adopt the cultivation of the crop and form a growers cooperative for buying power and marketing amongst the fruit growers.

They intend to plant 5 acres of pomegranate trees with three different varieties to test which one is the most successful. They also want to plant 3 acres of apples and peaches to further diversify the operation along with the pomegranates.