Business Profiles

Atelier Farm

Atelier Farm

by Christina Saylor

Atelier Farm, located off Preddy Creek Road in northern Albemarle County is lovingly owned and operated by farmer, Austin Mandryk. Austin named his farm after the French word atelier, meaning workshop or studio, and his farm feels just like that — an open air studio where Austin creates and organizes his next work of art of the season. It is beautiful to behold the bounty and variety of flavors and colors of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers he coaxes his land into producing.

Austin, calls his farm “beyond organic” and “pro-biotic.” Austin’s methods include using living mulch, no-till cover crops, beneficial bug borders, and weed and vermicompost teas, all in a loving and attentive effort to promote all life to flourish in balance on this 5-acre plot. A a result, Austin is bringing the overused, fallow land back to health. He is providing fresh produce that his CSA members can eat with a good conscience, while also renewing the ground that nourishes us.

Atelier Farm sells both summer and winter CSA free choice shares, with each season lasting 6 months. The winter season focuses on fresh spinach, root crops, dried beans, popcorn, winter teas, and a variety of herbs like dried spices, hot pepper, garlic, ginger, and turmeric. The summer CSA adds fresh fruit like watermelons, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries, a diversity of greens, all the usual suspects of summer—there are 100 varieties of tomatoes—fresh culinary herbs such as mint, basil, and cilantro, healing herbs like ashwagandha and burdock, and exotic specialties like husk cherries, shiso, and Thai winter melons.

A trip to pick up your share at Atelier Farm turns into a restorative journey in itself. Listening to Austin’s philosophy and vision for his future farm—which he is always planning for—and watching his passion for ‘creating’ encourages you to connect with the land and the food it provides. Summer CSA shares are still available. If you are interested in becoming part of this community, you can join at www.atelier.farm/pay/summer.

International Rescue Committee: New Roots Program

International Rescue Committee: New Roots Program

by Christina Saylor

The key to the success of the New Roots program of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Charlottesville has been the ability to blend social support to refugees with the region’s vibrant agricultural heritage to create community synergies and bring us all closer to the food we grow and eat. The New Roots Program in Charlottesville is part of a national effort of the IRC, and organization that was founded in 1933. The IRC in Charlottesville is the only local resettlement agency and provides essential services that support the successful integration of eligible immigrants.

New Roots strives to create a sense of community integration that revolves around our shared interest in the production and consumption of fresh food. To meet that goal, the program consists of multiple interconnected initiatives that work with New Americans in our community to support their health and wellness, community connection and household economics through food and agriculture.

The highlights of these efforts include the New Roots-operated community program that serves more than 60 families at 8 locations. New Roots also educates people and provides material support, facilitating the acquisition of new skills to adapt peoples’ previous farming experience to take advantage of local micro-production opportunities.

New Roots staff operate the Michie Market neighborhood farm stand where graduates of the Micro Producer Program can sell their produce and earn supplemental income (all income from the sales goes directly to the farmers). New Americans who participate in this program say that it instills them with a sense of pride because they are involved in providing something of value to the local community.

These farmers also have the opportunity to sell their produce to local restaurants, an innovative company called Small Axe Peppers and other outlets. New Roots provides support through other avenues as well, including advocating locally for a more just and healthful food system and funding matching incentives to New Americans which boosts their purchasing power when shopping for fresh food at participating locations.

This year New Roots is enhancing an existing community partnership of 4 years with Bellair Farm CSA. Bellair will continue to lend greenhouse space to the farmers at no cost and will now also provide land for the farmers to sow their crops. Bellair Farm CSA is very excited for the development because it presents opportunities to everyone to learn new farming techniques and practices. Bellair will also host cooking classes for the community where the farmers can share their regional cooking knowledge. The farmers will sell some of their produce as add-on shares to the CSA and Bellair will also purchase a portion of their harvests to complement and increase the variety of produce that Bellair provides to its members.

Bellair CSA members will be able to purchase this produce and support local New American farmers and the IRC during the CSA pickup at the farm on Saturdays.

Willowhawk Farm

Willowhawk Farm

by Brittany Croll

As you pull into the gravel driveway leading to Willow Hawk Farm, the sign reads “Caution: animals at play.” This intentionally small operation is a labor of love for Ashley and Greg who own the 18-acre farm.

Ashley described herself as a “fiber person” who wanted to try raising sheep. Together she and Greg have embarked on a journey that now includes producing roving (not twisted) yarn typically used by hand spinners, natural and dyed finished (twisted) yarn, fleeces, lamb meat and free-range eggs. The pastured-raised sheep are mostly Romney, which is a “long wool” breed with mild flavored meat. Willow Hawk’s flock averages 30-35 ewes, with new lambs each year. In addition to the sheep and their two guardian Great Pyrenees, they have about 18 chickens to produce the eggs and several farm cats that serve as the official greeters.

In addition to the sustainability ethos that Greg and Ashley adhere to, what really sets Willow Hawk Farm apart is their commitment to community. For the past 17 years Ashley and Greg have served as a host farm for the Temple Hall Non-Owners Sheep Club, which is a Loudoun County 4-H program. As part of this program, the group will learn and experience all things about raising sheep and compete in the Loudoun County Fair in the summer. Many of the kids will participate for multiple years becoming part of Ashley and Greg’s extended family.

To experience Willow Hawk Farm firsthand, attend their Spring and Fall Farm Days. Ashley conducts spinning and dying demos, enthusiastically explains the in-depth hand dying process, the young lambs are in pens for visitors to pet, and the 4-H kids provide tours highlighting the bank barn which is built into the hillside on the property. They also make sure that the tractor is out for visitors to sit on, which is usually a favorite activity.

When asked what is one thing Greg and Ashley would want people to know about their farm, they replied nearly simultaneously, “We have happy lambs!”

Bee’s Wing Farm

Bee’s Wing Farm

by Mitra Kashani

Everyone needs a little soul food, and that’s just what Bee’s Wing Farm provides! Nestled in the valleys of Bluemont, Virginia, Bee’s Wing Farm is a newly blossoming flower farm owned and operated by Chelsea Belle Graves.

Chelsea is a young and hopeful farmer with over ten years of experience tending to the earth. With the help of her parents and husband, Chelsea brought Bee’s Wing Farm to life at her childhood home in Bluemont in 2014, and now grows over 40 varieties of flowers, berries, herbs, and greenery, and creates hand-curated bouquets for every occasion.

Originally, Chelsea had aspirations to become a vegetable grower, but later realized that with flowers, “… I was nourishing a different part of people. I tell folks we’re selling soul food…they recognize that their eyes and their heart need to feast on that. I got over not growing carrots anymore.”

Bee’s Wing Farm uses all organic and gentle practices in their growing, stating “in an effort to care for and respect the land we do not use any synthetic pesticides or herbicides. We know that the soil is the soul of our farm and care for it through cover cropping, compost and integrating our livestock and cropping systems.”

The farm also houses a walk-in cooler, allowing customers the opportunity to experience flowers that are picked at their peak freshness. There are a variety of ways to experience the blooms of Bee’s Wing Farm: as a bride or groom on your wedding day, as a CSA share member where you receive a fresh bouquet every week, at a local farmers market (this summer, the farm will be tabeling at Reston and Berrysville farmers markets) or at a local wholesale shop, like Jenny’s Salon or Petite LouLou.

As Chelsea mentioned, “When you’re choosing local, you’re supporting people living the dream, helping them sustain this life whether its through a $2 stem at a farmers market or a CSA share.”

The Fresh Harvest

The Fresh Harvest

by Beth Miller-Herholtz

What if you could get locally sourced, fresh food delivered right to your door? And what if you could choose products from a variety of producers who use the most sustainable farming methods? And what if you knew that the products you chose were raised and grown by local farmers? If you’re like me, you’d think you found a little bit of heaven on earth.

That’s just what Matt Coyle and Dr. Jerry Engh have created in their new collaboration called The Fresh Harvest. When Matt started working at Dr. Engh’s family farm, Lakota Ranch, he saw the difference eating food raised without using antibiotics, GMOs or grain made in his and his family’s overall health. As a world-renown orthopedic surgeon who has also raised prize-winning Devon cattle for over 50 years, Dr. Engh has seen the benefits of good nutrition first hand, both in his patients and his own family. Together, they began to think how they could expand beyond the farmer’s markets and help both local consumers and the local farming communities.

The Fresh Harvest began with 12 producers and 100 products in April 2018. Today, the online hub has over 40 producers and 500 products and continues to expand! Matt leads the operation and has worked with his team and his producers to reduce food waste. Everything comes in and goes out on the same day. They do all that they can to ensure freshness and as Matt said, “to connect people with their farmer.”

There’s no subscription fee or minimum order. All you need to do is place your order online using their website or app (The Fresh Harvest) by 11:59pm on Sundays. Each order is collected and coordinated in the early part of the week so that by Thursday, The Fresh Harvest team can package your selections and deliver the same day. All products have been picked, baked, and even juiced the day before delivery. You can also choose your preferred point of delivery: your own doorstep (no delivery fee for orders over $150), or for free delivery at Powell Wellness Center in Culpeper and the WARF in Warrenton.

Local. Fresh. Delivered. That’s a little bit of heaven on earth. That’s The Fresh Harvest.

Happy Family Ranch

Happy Family Ranch

by Beth Miller-Herholtz

Southern Fauquier County is known for its farms, and you’ll find one of the finest at the end of Elk Run Church Road in Midland, Virginia. It’s called the Happy Family Ranch, owned and operated by Roberto Melendez and his family. Not only are they dedicated to producing fine meats, including grass-fed beef and pork, but they are also dedicated to educating others about what it means to bring the farm to the table.

Established in 2013 initially as a land investment, it became a working ranch when the couple of goats Roberto bought for his parents quickly expanded to include potbelly, Mangalitsa, & Heritage Yorkshire hogs, 80 prized Wagyu cattle, & a variety of fowl. I sat down with Roberto in early March to learn more about their vision for farm to table meats and their experience as first time famers.

“I drew a lot of inspiration from others in the county and from my own heritage. Respect for the animal is a top priority, and we work hard to make sure they are fed and cared for with dignity. We’ve collaborated with the local Co-Op, the USDA, and now PEC. Thanks to a grant from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), we’ll be expanding and improving our infrastructure. Producing award-winning meats requires clean water sources, non-GMO food sources, and room to roam.”

You’ll also find the Happy Family Ranch food truck making its rounds at local breweries, farmers markets, and other events. While I was at the Ranch, I sampled the street taco and hamburger—from farm to fork is a delicious experience! I finished up my tour in the retail shop, which is clean and ready to welcome visitors. Soon, there will be an outside gathering area where you might take some time to appreciate both the view and the animals. “Farming never stops. It teaches me something new every day,” said Roberto. “I love how it brings people together.”

Visits are encouraged, so drop by the Ranch at 12507 Elk Run Church Road, Midland, VA and select your meats in the retail shop. Find them also at the Manassas and Warrenton Farmers Markets. Visit them online at www.happyfamilyranch.net, or follow them on Facebook.