What does it look like, your place in the country? Is it a tiny cabin in the mountains beside a trout stream? Is it a grand manor with manicured grounds? Maybe it’s an old farmhouse with plenty of room for your horses, cows and chickens. For those of us who imagine a country home as the culmination of and reward for a long and busy career, visions of quiet sunrises and sunsets, the sounds of a rooster in the morning and tree frogs in the evening float through our consciousness more and more often as the reality grows nearer and nearer.
Most of my clients are living in the city or suburbs and either approaching retirement or contemplating a career that allows them to work virtually anywhere they wish. Hustle and bustle, traffic jams and twelve hour days have gotten them where they are and now allows them a choice. Some choose the country and the opportunity to surround themselves with the things of the earth rather than the things of man.
I never tire of hearing the dreams as they spill out. “She’s always wanted her own horse” “He’s always wanted a John Deere tractor”. Fortunately, these are attainable dreams. Whether it be a dream of starting a vineyard, running a B&B, raising horses or growing organic food for a farm to table business, there are country properties, large and small, grand or modest that are ripe for the picking this fall in the beautiful Virginia countryside surrounding Charlottesville and the University of Virginia.
Here’s a wonderful new offering in the spectacular South River Valley of Greene County just north of Charlottesville. With 81 acres of prime farmland, a fully renovated 1900’s farmhouse and magnificent views in every direction, Octonia Highlands Farm has unlimited potential. It is located adjacent to an award winning vineyard , is all fenced for horse and cattle and has stocked pond.
Octonia Highland Farm, MLS 552484 >
Property Brochure (PDF, 566kb) >
I’m pretty sure my chicken’s free range eggs and my tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, peas and beans would be considered organic. The great success of the weeds in my garden, and the healthy population of Japanese beetles in my apples trees and roses are proof that I don’t spray.
That wouldn’t be enough for the USDA certification though. There are mountains of do’s and don’ts spelled out in the Guidance on Organic Agriculture that take a pretty dedicated farmer to adhere to for certification. The organic guidelines were established in 1990 with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and get tweaked a few times a year as different substances and practices are approved or disapproved. Organic farming is more a labor of love than a practical approach to making a profit from agriculture. It encourages recycling, humane treatment of animals, and natural growth of plants and animals free from antibiotics and hormonal and genetic modification. The basic tenets for Organic Farming are all good:
Organic farms and processors:
- Preserve natural resources and biodiversity
- Support animal health and welfare
- Provide access to the outdoors so that animals can exercise their natural behaviors
- Only use approved materials
- Do not use genetically modified ingredients
- Receive annual onsite inspections
- Separate organic food from non-organic food
When you balk at the higher prices for organic food at the grocery store, go ahead and bite the bullet. You’re not paying extra because it tastes better (though it does), you are paying extra because it’s much harder to grow and takes a farmer willing to wade through paperwork, keep a daily log of farming activities, and be satisfied with a lower yield of a better product.
If you are thinking of producing an organic product, thank you. You’ll need to show that your land has gone at least three years without any non-permissible additions and will have to have soil tests done before your first certification. It’s become a way of life for over 30,000 farmers in the US and continues to grow as consumers demand a more natural, kind, and organic approach to producing our food.