Wednesday, August 9, 2017

BZA Updates! Summer 2017

A funny thing happened on the way to appealing the Fairfax County BZA ruling on a Ropes Course at Whitehall Farm


Hello Whitehall Farm Supporters,


On July 6th, I had literally just downloaded a 53 page guide on how to represent yourself in Circuit Court (yeah, yeah, I know what that makes me) when I was advised that I should submit a request for reconsideration to the BZA. Who knew such a thing existed? I won’t get into who advised me of this. Low and behold, at the July12th BZA meeting, two of the no votes from our original appeal changed to yes votes for the reconsideration. Did these gentlemen have a come to Jesus moment, have a relative or friend convince them to change their votes, or is this a move to fix a procedural error from the original hearing? No matter why, we get a do-over. I’ve known since July 20th our new BZA appeal hearing date was to be Sept. 27th, but was told by the BZA folks that the official notice had to come from Zoning. We couldn’t put this information out until I received that notice yesterday. I’ll let you decide why there might have been such a delay.


So here we are again asking for your support. If you haven’t signed our petition, please do so and ask your friends and family to sign. Once you link to the petition, there are several documents that fully explain the situation. The petition is at 560 signatures. Let’s see if we can get to 1000 by Sept. 27th.


We believe letters that support Whitehall Farm and that are sent to the BZA members would be a powerful sign that the community wants Whitehall Farm to succeed. Let’s try to send at least 250 letters to the BZA by Sept. 27th. If you are so inclined, please email your letter to BZAClerkMail@fairfaxcounty.gov , with Reconsideration of Appeal Application A 2017-SP-008 in the subject line. Please copy your letter to me at info@whitehall.farm so we can track the numbers. Please be respectful of the BZA members in your correspondence. We want to win these folks over to our side.


I think all the folks that came to our original hearing and those who spoke made an impression on the BZA members. Let’s fill the place this time! We’ll try to come up with a better way to get people there at the right time to cut down on wasting your time.


Getting approval for the ropes course is critical in our being able to continue what we’ve started here at Whitehall. Please help.


Thank you for your help,

Jeff Waters

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Summer Classes




Parent-Child Programs :

Our parent-child program is an innovative program that combines a hands-on farm activity or craft with your child and listening to a story highlighting a farm theme. Parents/guardians and young children (ages preschool to 8 years) are welcome.

Each program costs $10 per participating child.
These classes are designed to give our youngest community members a look into farms and how their food grows. We will have a hayride from our market to the farm, followed by a farm tour, where we will see the farm animals (including Henry the cow!), the fields, and learn how the farm works. Following a themes based hands on activity, we will have story time and a group art project. To end our class we have another hayride back to your car. After the class, feel free to have a snack on the grounds, and our farm market has items for you to purchase as well!

These classes are developed by an experienced early childhood educator for children ages 2-8. Siblings of any age are welcome and those under 2 are free with a paying attendee.

Please come prepared to spend time outdoors. Close toed shoes, hats, water, sunscreen, bug spray and snacks encouraged.

Weather policy: if inclement weather is in the forecast we will send out an email by 7pm Thursday if class is cancelled. Please keep your eventbrite ticket email as a voucher for another class. 



Bee Keeping Classes:

​Come join James and Steven in the apiary on either Sunday or Thursday at 4pm for the first of the WHF and HiveHive bee keeping series. Open to novice and experienced bee keepers. Children are also invited with an adult 18+ only. Please sign up here: All classes will be $20 each, with couple and family discounts. If you are interested in coming to all of the classes from March through September.

Dates: July 9th, 20th, August 13th, 17th, September 10th, 21st.

PLEASE SIGN UP HERE.
*EACH MONTHS SUNDAY AND THURSDAY CLASS WILL COVER THE SAME MATERIAL. CLASS MATERIAL WILL CHANGE BY MONTH NOT BY WEEK*




Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ropes Course Update 6/22/2017 *FINAL UPDATE BEFORE HEARING*

Whitehall still needs your support!

Dear Whitehall Farm friends, supporters, and customers,
We are now down to the last week until our Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals hearing about being allowed to operate a ropes course on the farm by-right as part of our agritourism business. Currently we have 460 petition signees. Nadine, I, and our farm team can’t thank you enough for your support.
We received the Fairfax County Zoning Administrator’ official response to our appeal yesterday; 98 pages! Apparently, the Commonwealth will come to an end if Zoning can’t stop the scourge known as Whitehall Farm. How much money are they spending in their attempt to keep us from doing what VA Code 15.2-22.88.6 (AKA the Boneta Bill) says we are allowed to do?
The Zoning Administrator included numerous interesting things in her attempted refutation of our appeal claims:
  • Since we harvested timber 6 years ago, the Zoning Administrator claims Whitehall’s forest is no longer a silviculture crop. While you can’t expect the Zoning Administrator to know everything, you should expect her to know something about what she is ruling on. If you have visited Whitehall (the Zoning Administrator hasn’t), you know our woods are intact because we practice renewable, sustainable forestry. Our harvests are select and occur every 15 to 20 years, so of course our forest is still a silviculture crop and would be even if we had clear cut it and replanted.
  • That Popes Head Road not having a shoulder creates a “health, safety, and general welfare” issue that allows her to require a Special Permit. When Nadine and I wanted to open a Paintball Facility, the Zoning Department recommended approval even though paintball’s entrance was to be at 12711 Popes Head. That location had the bare minimum sight distances required by VDOT. Our market location’s (proposed entrance for a ropes course) sight distances are twice as long. Much safer.
  • The Zoning Administrator cites a farm in Prince Edward County having to get a Special Permit in order to open a ropes course as precedent for her ruling. Only one problem; that farm applied for that Special Permit two full years before the passage of VA Code 15.2-22.88.6. Perhaps putting that farm through the ordeal and cost of a Special Permit was a factor in the VA General Assembly enacting this law with almost 80% bi-partisan support.
I could go on, but you guys have lives and we have a farm to run. I spoke with a very nice lady who is the Clerk to the Board of Zoning Appeals yesterday and if you wish to speak at our appeal hearing, all you have to do is email the Board clerks at bzaclerkmail@fairfaxcounty.gov to be put on the speakers list. The hearing is scheduled for 9AM, June 28th in the Board Auditorium, Lobby Level, Government Center Building, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, Virginia. Public support is paramount! We need more supportive speakers!
Cheers,
The Whitehall Farm Family





Thursday, June 8, 2017

Ropes Course Update 6/8/17

Whitehall needs your support!
Zoning Update 6/8/17

Petition link HERE


Dear Whitehall Farm friends, supporters, and customers,

We are now within three weeks until our Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals hearing about being allowed to operate a ropes course on the farm by-right as part of our agritourism business. We can’t emphasize enough how important the revenue from the ropes course is to our ability to continue what we have started here. When VA Code 15.2-22.88.6 (AKA the Boneta Bill) passed in 2014 with almost 80% bi-partisan support, it was an acknowledgement that small family farms needed help to stay in business.

Fairfax County Zoning is claiming that this use isn’t a by-right issue by asserting that a ropes course isn’t a natural activity or attraction and that it will have, as of now, an unnamed adverse effect on the health, safety, and general welfare of the public. But in a Washington Business Journal article about the county opening their own ropes courses, the heads of the Fairfax Park Authority completely refute Fairfax County Zoning’s assertions:

“We are truly making this course a ‘travel lightly’ on the land to preserve and protect these resources and to serve as a springboard (so to speak) to nature in the tree tops,” Barbara Nugent, the Authority’s park services division director, said in an email.
High ropes courses, according to the Park Authority, offer a low-impact, first-hand look at the forest ecosystem, while also providing exercise, team building and personal confidence. They are an opportunity for everyone, from elementary school children to adults, “to access the forest by climbing up into the trees.”

“Ropes courses have been used worldwide to allow people to gain access to forest canopies where they can see firsthand the complexity of forest biomes and gain an appreciation of how complex and rich these biologically diverse ecosystems can be,” per the RFP, which closes Jan. 22.

This article also says that the county is planning “multiple” courses. The hypocrisy of the county’s position is staggering.

We urgently need all who support Whitehall to sign our online petition and attend our appeal hearing on Wednesday, June 28th at 9AM in the auditorium of 12000 Government Center Parkway. A full auditorium will send a strong message.

Thank you,
The Whitehall Farm Family

Press links:





Friday, May 26, 2017

Yoga and Tai chi starting June 3

The classes will be:
Tai Chi from 9 am -10 am. 
Gentle Yoga - All levels yoga from 10 am- 11 am. 
Some may want to stay for both as they compliment each other very well. ($2 dollar discount if you sign up for both)

$15/class

Class descriptions:

Gentle Yoga - All levels:
The aim of this class is to wake up the body with gentle stretching, breath practice and yoga postures, intended for beginners with no previous experience, or those looking for a gentle basic ongoing practice. 


Tai Chi/Qigong
This class will be a combination of healing Qigong and Tai Chi Easy and is appropriate for beginners or those wishing to continue the benefits of an ongoing practice.

Tai chi easy was created by Roger Jahnke of the IIQTC to make Tai Chi more accessible for all ages and abilities. Tai Chi is one of the most complex forms of Qigong (an ancient Chinese system for health and wellness of mind and body). Tai Chi Easy takes five essential movements from the traditional Yang style 108 movement long form, and distills it into simplified practice that makes Tai Chi easy, beneficial and fun right away.

The form was created by carefully reviewing many of the most popular and beneficial forms and distilling it down to five. It can be done standing or sitting, and the most important thing is not the form or the movement, but the state of being (state of awareness) that you do in the movement. 

Bio:
Cynthia enjoys combining ancient and modern healing systems for health of body, mind and spirit, including Yoga, Energy medicine, Tai Chi and Qigong. She began practicing yoga in 1989 and began teaching in 2002. She holds a 500 hour teaching certificate from Sun and Moon Yoga Studio and a 200 hour Certification for Tai Chi and Qigong form the IIQTC. (Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi)