This interview with Virginia farmer and ham expert, DeeDee Darden takes place in Smithfield, Virginia where the family raises cotton & corn and maintains the family smokehouse where they salt cure hams the way it was done decades ago.

She explains the almost year-long process of salt curing and smoking hams to get the color and taste that is so desirable. As well as some of the history around Virginia and Smithfield hams in particular.

DeeDee also shows us around the family’s farm, telling us about the fall visits by many school groups in the area. Hosting school groups provides a chance for children to learn about cotton (even checking out a cotton picker, playing in corn boxes, seeing various animals, taking a hay ride and picking out the perfect pumpkin in the field!

DeeDee mentioned an element of laughter with cotton underwear used to provide insight on where clothes come from. I have long blogged about cotton on a site called and had to explain how other cotton farmers soil their undies to demonstrate soil health.

Taking a tour of the smokehouse is a highlight for my visit for sure! She also shows us around the farm — animals she shares with kids and we discuss crops planted. And you get to see the store inside.

You can check out the Darden Country Store Facebook page at visit the Darden Country Store website.

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3 comments on “What makes Virginia hams so legendary? DeeDee Darden explains her family’s traditions