When Pilot Mountain Pride opened its doors in May 2010, organizers of the produce marketing initiative were conservatively hoping to bring in $30,000 to $50,000 in sales for the first year.

But last year’s sales greatly exceeded those expectations, coming in at more than $250,000.

Bryan Cave, Surry County Extension director, was heavily involved in getting PMP off the ground. Like others, he was pleased and surprised by the first year sales.

In early June, PMP was off to a somewhat slower start in its second season, due mainly to wet, cool conditions that had kept farmers out of the fields in the spring.

In Surry County, like other parts of North Carolina, former tobacco growers are seeking new ways to diversify production. Pilot Mountain Pride helps local farmers to earn a living raising produce, while establishing the organization as a regional model for produce sales.

Cave described PMP as an “aggregation center,” where growers bring produce to be washed, graded, packaged, marketed and delivered to buyers.