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Jay Reese, lynchpin of vegetable farming operation, dies at age 56

SoVaNow.com / February 13, 2020
One of Halifax County’s leading growers and agribusiness entrepreneurs has died at the age of 56.

Julius Hudson “Jay” Reese Jr. of Scottsburg passed away Tuesday, Feb. 11. Reese, widely known in Virginia farming circles, ran Reese’s Farm Fresh Produce with other members of his Scottsburg family, including his parents, Hudson and Patsy Reese.

Reese was past president and current board member of the Halifax County Farm Bureau, and also served as past president of the Virginia Farm Bureau Young Farmers Committee and past member of Farm Bureau State Vegetable Advisory Committee.

His contributions to local farming were vast, up to and including Reese Farms’ role in restoring a Halifax County tradition — locally grown cantaloupes at the Virginia Cantaloupe Festival. In 2016, Reese Farms took over as supplier for the Cantaloupe Fest, after several years of relying on imported melons. Reese Farms also provided thousands of ears of locally-grown corn for the enjoyment of festival guests.

“Jay Reese has been a fixture of Halifax County Farm Bureau a long time,” said Chad Francis, then-vice president of the Halifax County Farm Bureau in a 2016 interview. “He established a Young Farm group and spent time representing southern Virginia as Young Farmer Chair with a seat on the State Board. He currently serves on the board of directors here in the Halifax County Farm Bureau. The whole family, though, has always been so involved and an important part of Farm Bureau and Halifax County.”

Along with the family run produce shop at the Scottsburg farm, the Reese family operates a popular vegetable stand in Centerville. For the past three years, Reese’s Farm Fresh Produce has been a supplier of fresh, locally grown vegetables at Food Lion stores in the area under the chain’s “Local Goodness” program.

In addition to his work in agriculture, Reese also served his hometown of Scottsburg as past chief of the Scottsburg Volunteer Fire Department. He was a member and deacon of Scottsburg Baptist Church.

A funeral will be held Friday, Feb. 14, at 2 p.m. at Scottsburg Baptist Church with Rev. Kermit Evans officiating. Burial will follow in Oakland Cemetery.

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