GLENNVILLE, Ga. — Gerald Dasher, who cofounded G&R Farms with his brother Robert Dasher and is remembered as one of the innovators in the Vidalia onion industry, was posthumously inducted into the Vidalia Hall of Fame earlier this year.
Described by the Vidalia Onion Committee’s awards committee as a “pioneering force in the marketing, growing and distribution of Vidalia onions,” Gerald Dasher had an appreciation for vertical integration before it became a trendy business buzz phrase.
Dasher died in 2003.
Gerald and Robert started out working with their father, Walter Dasher, who is credited with being among the first Vidalia growers to market the sweet onions to a supermarket chain when he and five other growers made a deal with Piggly Wiggly Southern to supply regional stores.
In the early 1970s, after their father died, the brothers formed G&R Farms and continued his innovations.
They increased plantings, which started out at just 10 acres, and Gerald Dasher hit the road to aggressively market the Vidalia onions they were growing and packing.
He criss-crossed the U.S. and traveled to foreign countries to spread the word about Vidalia onions.
The traveling paid off, and the brothers initiated a farm-based mail-order business for their onions.
In the late 1980s, the Dashers became the first Vidalia onion producers to market their onions to a national supermarket chain when they began supplying Kroger, according to Vidalia Onion Committee records.
As Vidalias became more popular and other growers entered the deal, Gerald Dasher became known as one of the go-to guys. He answered growers’ questions and packed their onions when they needed to make shipping deadlines.
In honoring Gerald Dasher as a Hall of Fame inductee, members of the Vidalia awards committee noted that G&R Farms was the first onion producer to offer box packaging to better protect the soft, sweet Vidalias from bruising. The ventilated box cartons remain the industry standard today.
G&R Farms is also known as an early adopter of controlled atmospheric storage methods to extend the onion sales season.
During his career, Gerald Dasher served as chairman of the then-named United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association. He was also a member of the Governor’s International Board of Industry and Trade and the National Onion Association.
Robert Dasher continues to co-own G&R with Gerald’s wife and son, Pam and Walt Dasher.