New cherry tree operation behind schedule but progressing

By Jane W. Graham
AFP Correspondent

WYTHEVILLE, Va. (May 30, 2017) — A year ago Branch Botanicals announced that it was bringing a new farming enterprise to Southwest Virginia. The project to be in Wythe County’s Progress Park has apparently fallen behind the timeline envisioned at that time.
The proposal is for area farmers to grow cherry trees for flavoring obtained from the biomass produced by the trees. Dan Tolley, president of the company, talked about the concept, farming methods and manufacturing with American Farm Publications then.
He said the company is planning an 80,000-square-foot plant on a site in the park. He talked about bringing 40 employees on board in the next three years.
“The project is proceeding but not on the timeline we had at first had,” David Manley, executive director of the Wythe County Industrial Development Authority, said in a telephone interview May 24.
“We have full faith in the project and look forward to it being a tenant in Progress Park,” Manley stated. “It’s progressing.”
Jeremy Farley, Wythe County Public Information Officer, said though the project pace has slipped, there is still for completion.
“While we’d rather see any new industry to the county operational immediately, Branch Botanicals has until April 2020 to meet its performance agreements,” Farley said in an e-mail. 
“The company has begun the process of installing growing buildings on the property and the county has helped secure $359,695 in grant funding to provide wastewater lines to the lot,” he added.
“We’re looking forward to seeing the facility operational and are happy that the company has recognized Wythe County as being a great place to do business,” Farley said.
Attempts were made by both telephone and e-mail to reach Tolley to learn about where the project is a year later. They were not successful.