This guest post is from Virginia organic farmer, Susan Verbeeck.
Come to Virginia if you are interested in fresh, natural food and sustainable organic farming systems. This state has so much to offer for those interested in eating healthy and local or starting their own farm. Nine years ago my husband and I (and our seven children) left the stressful and expensive life in New York’s Long Island to seek greener pastures and start a farm in rural Virginia. We bought a new farmhouse on 12 ½ acres, plenty of land to be able to grow food to make sure our family eats healthy and fresh. Throughout these years all of us have been working together to live as sustainably as we possibly can.
Striving for Sustainability
Such an education we have been receiving here! The locals here go back 250 years; there are Land grants from the King of England, heritage plantation farms and lots of early American history. The country people from this part of the south are a wealth of information. The kids and I learned how to can tomatoes one sweltering August day in a home from the 1800′s with no air conditioning. Old timey advice is given to us by folks who truly live off the land. Our eggs come from local pasture raised chickens, raw milk from a nearby Jersey cow (that we own a share of) and our beef from a Black Angus that we knew on a first name basis. We arm ourselves with pitchforks and shovels and implement what we have gleaned from this old country wisdom. We utilize no-till organic farming which is one of the best ways to grow produce. No-till farming is a method, utilized for 1000′s of years, in which you do not till, break up, plow or turn under the soil. It stays undisturbed as heavy mulching breaks down into ideal nutrients for the plants. Doing things this way is also a good workout. Being out in the fresh air and sunshine, shoveling, mulching, planting, weeding, tending, harvesting and then cooking is a rewarding way to live.
Famous Farmers and Passionate Politicians
This is an exciting part of America to visit and reside in. Our farm in Virginia is centrally located, between Washington D.C., our capital of Richmond, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Shenandoah Valley and the Atlantic Ocean. Early American History sites abound and the heartbeat of our government pounds just 90 miles north of us. It is through living in this state that we have come to know and gotten involved with the politics and influential people of the organic food realm. There are many wonderful organic farms all around this state. From apples to asparagus and from paw paws to persimmons, you can find them all here in beautiful Virginia.
We joined the Virginia Independent Consumer to Farmer Association (VICFA), founded by Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms in Swope, Virginia; featured in the films Food Inc. and Fresh. We have lobbied at the Capitol for our food freedom rights, attended functions, seminars and workshops such as The Weston Price Foundation with Sally Fallon author of Nourishing Traditions, a cookbook and nutritional manual that challenges the politically correct diet dictocrats. Learning from these leaders in the natural food and farming world has been a blessing to us.
Food For Thought
This journey of ours from city life to country has been quite the adventure. We are taking a road to healthier living that we hope will ensure a better future for our children. This region of America has so much to offer in many ways. There are numerous organic and natural producers that supply their goods to restaurants, grocery stores and farmers markets. Making a life change like we did takes some patience and hard work. The simple life is not always easy. But to be able to reap the benefits of good healthy living and knowing where most of your food comes from, is a decent reward!
Susan Verbeeck, her husband John and their seven children live on an organic farm in rural Virginia. They home educate, grow the foods that they eat on their farm, supplementing from other local producers. They also create a line of natural products available on their Facebook page, Grow in Grace Farm and at shops and markets around Virginia. Susan recently started a blog to share their stories. They have a second Facebook page, Grow in Grace Life