Goings On

A Note From Farmer Deb

Hey, Farm-ily.

When I started here in 2012, I couldn’t believe that all of my favorite things melted together and became my job. Everything I wanted to do, grow, learn, nurture and build was happening – is happening – right here in Willowsford. On one side of the treeline, we are farming through blood, sweat and tears, 24/7, with tractors, muddy boots, and the incredible comradery that accompanies physically hard work. On the other side of the treeline, we are weeding tidy rows of zinnias for clipping, neatly stacking vegetables, and engaging with you beautiful human beings and your families over something equally beautiful: food and farming. And behind door number three, we have the financial support, expertise and security of the developers, marketing, accounting and the Conservancy. Talk about a triple bottom line. #DreamTeam

Forty vegetable CSA shares in year one turned into 80, then 100, then 200, then we added laying hens, then broilers, then more CSA drop locations, weekly tours, camp, winter shares, more land, more chickens, goats, volunteer hours, market days, members, subscriptions and houses were popping up as fast as the weeds.

LinkedIn keeps reminding me that it is my 6-Year Work Anniversary and I can’t believe how much has happened here in that time, that feels like a blink. Mike Snow designed, built and populated farms and barns with equipment and nurtured soils for long-term success. Alex Restaino and Anya Rosen paved the way for a fantastic 2018 and our veteran crew members make even the hottest tomato-harvesting day look easy. Alex Hencin has created rotational grazing systems for hens that produce fantastic eggs and built cozy pastures and houses for pigs. Brian Cullen even took a chance and let me bring goats in to clear weeds and connect children and adults to the ecosystem around them.

Somewhere along the way (I think after I decided to be “proactive” and thin our first tomato seedling tray when Mike was on winter vacation #slapsforehead), I ended up spending more and more time on the retail, garden and community side of things. In doing so, I moved into the Farm Stand and Garden space alongside the residents, we got to put our roots down together. I cherish all the conversations we’ve had over garden beds and dogs. I have never felt so strongly rooted in community as I do here. Which is why it is with heavy boots that I share with you: I’ll be leaving my position at the farm at the end of August.

Selflessness and workaholism are in my genes. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing! What I mean is, I walked in here fully prepared and willing to give absolutely everything I have to a concept of land development, agriculture and community that I believe is a critical step forward for the real food movement and I have happily given it my all. I was raised under the adage above, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” and I can say with my whole heart that I have not worked here, I have lived here. You all have made me a better neighbor, friend, teacher, aunt, farmer, farmily member, manager, everything… but gosh, my body needs a break and the rest of me needs a balance that is incompatible with the size and scope of the exciting things ahead for Willowsford Farm (and my pre-existing “give every single thing 110%” condition).

This project is ripe and ready for a fresh set of eyes to refine the systems, plug the leaks, get those wholesale accounts going, build that new market on Route 50 and take the farm to the next level. And guess what? We have already found them and they are wonderful. Great things will continue to happen here at Willowsford Farm.

I will be around the farm and store for the rest of August and hope to see you all there, or on future Tuesdays when I pick up my share of the most wonderful vegetables and eggs in town. The goats and I are settling into a new home and pasture a little further west in Loudoun County and will continue to work in agriculture. Please visit, stay in touch, Facebook, email, text and all that jazz.

Goatspeed,

Farmer Deb

deborahdramby@gmail.com

“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast….a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space.” – Edward Abbey

 

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Willowsford Conservancy

41025 Willowsford Lane, Aldie, VA 20105

Phone: 571-440-2400

info@willowsfordconservancy.org

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23595 Founders Drive, Ashburn, VA 20148

Phone: 571-297-6900

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