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After retiring from the school system in Texas, Tommye Lou Rafes turned her long time love of gardening into a farm business, T.L Fruits and Vegetable, LLC. The T.L stands for “tender loving” or Tommye Lou, as her family calls her T.L. for short. Tommye stays very busy managing a diverse fruit and vegetable operation all year round, with 2 fruit orchards, berry bushes, an asparagus patch, grape arbors, raised beds, and 2 high tunnels. T.L. Fruits and Vegetable farm is around three acres in production.

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As a former science teacher, Tommye loves to experiment with new varieties and methods of growing. She participated in a trial with WVU Extension Service and grew 12 different varieties of cantaloupes in raised beds on drip tape, with great success. Tommye avidly seeks out new cultivars of all her favorite plants and this year planted a ½ acre in a new variety of raspberry called double gold. As the size of her operation continues to grow, Tommye has been lucky to find local part-time help and three exceptional volunteers who come out every week to help her harvest, wash and pack her produce. “I couldn’t do this without the help,” Tommye says.

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T.L. is committed to following sustainable practices including composting and crop rotation to increase fertility and control pests on the farm. She is cautious with what inputs she uses and only uses what she feels is safe for her and her family.“ I hope whoever inherits this land, be it a child or grandchild or someone else, will continue to love it and give back to it as I have done,” Tommye says.

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T.L. sells fruits and vegetables on the Monroe Farm Market all year long. The Monroe Farm Market is an online marketplace with convenient pick-up in Lewisburg, Union, and Charleston, WV. For updates, recipes, and nutritional information on what’s in season, “like” T.L Fruits and Vegetable LLC on Facebook! T.L Fruits and Vegetables is the Greenbrier Valley Grown Featured Farm of January 2016. Visit for more details.

– Kim Forte, Greenbrier Valley Grown Program Coordinator. LBSPY #73, January 2016

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Publisher/Editor in Chief at HashtagWV | + posts

HASHTAGWV ART & ENTERTAINMENT Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, Christina Entenmann-Edwards has been a WV resident since September 2008. She was born and raised in Fairfield County, Connecticut, and is no stranger to hard work and the entrepreneurial spirit. In 2006, she graduated from Quinnipiac University (Hamden, Connecticut), Cum Laude, with a B.A. in History. In 2010, she graduated with an M.B.A. from Liberty University (Lynchburg, Virginia). In February 2012, Christina launched HashtagWV as the area’s first full-color, free arts and entertainment tabloid + online platform. Christina completed the Leadership West Virginia class of 2021, which is an innovative program that grows, engages, and mobilizes leaders to ignite a life passion to move West Virginia forward.