More about G&R Farms' History
Back in 1945 when Walter L. Dasher first began growing the sweet onions now known as Vidalias®, he only planted a few acres of the crop on his farm near Glennville, Georgia. He continued to produce the onions through the 1950s as their sweetness was becoming popular across the area. By the mid-1960s, Walter was one of six original growers contracted by Piggly Wiggly Southern to provide Vidalia® sweet onions for the grocery chain’s regional stores.
Walter’s sons Gerald and Robert joined the family farming business, learning the ropes of successfully growing the specialty onions. After Walter’s passing in 1971, Gerald and Robert renamed the operation G&R Farms, and they continued selling and promoting Vidalia® sweet onions.
Often referred to as pioneers in the Vidalia® sweet onion industry, the Dashers worked hard and persevered through the years, raising awareness for their crops throughout the South and around the country. As demand kept increasing, in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, the brothers started selling Vidalia® sweet onions to out-of-state customers through a farm-based mail order business. In the late 1980s, they became the first producers to market to a national supermarket chain when they began supplying Vidalia® sweet onions for Kroger. G&R was also the first onion producer to offer box packaging for shipping to protect their onions from bruising, and they were early adopters of controlled atmospheric storage methods to extend the onion sales season.
The Dasher family is often credited as instrumental in helping make Vidalia® sweet onions a sought-after food item nationwide through their role in this model of agricultural entrepreneurship. Since Gerald’s passing in 2003, Robert has run G&R Farms with Gerald’s wife Pam and son Walt, and his own sons Heath and Blake.
G&R Farms is a member of the Vidalia® Onion Committee and the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown™ Program. Robert is a member of the Canoochee EMC board, is a former board member of the Vidalia® Onion Committee and past chair of the Vidalia® Onion Business Council. He is active in the Young Farmers Association and Farm Bureau of Tattnall County. Robert has served on an agricultural advisory board for Sen. Jonny Isakson and on the board of the National Onion Association. He was also named Soil Conservationist of the Year for Tattnall County in 1982 and Vidalia® Onion Grower of the Year in 2004. G&R has been actively involved in the Produce Marketing Association for more than 40 years, and Walt currently serves on the national organization’s membership board. In 2010, Robert was honored as the only Vidalia® onion grower to ever be named as the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Georgia Farmer of the Year and Southeastern Farmer of the Year.
G&R Farms gives back to the community through support of local organizations including the Tattnall County Relay for Life and Tattnall Productions. The Dashers have donated historical farm equipment to the Vidalia Onion Museum and they support the annual Glennville Sweet Onion Festival. G&R Farms also donates use of a large smoker for barbecue fundraising projects to more than 15 clubs and schools in the area.