Thursday, June 30, 2016

Thoughts on the Farm: By Business Owner Jeff Waters

Thoughts on the Farm: By Business Owner Jeff Waters

I was on my way back from a pickle, soup, and Italian Gourmet run when I passed Windswept Farm on Braddock Road just east of the County Parkway. The 41 acre farm was sold several months ago and has had time to start its farm death spiral. The fields are well on their way to being overrun with weeds, especially invasive species weeds. There’s a decaying big round bale of hay lying outside the broken down barn, barely visible in the four foot high weeds. And the horses. Of course there are no horses. No horses kicking up their heels on a cold fall morning. No horses bending their regal necks down to eat grass or drink from the beautiful pond just over the hill from the road. No horses. Even though a church is being built on the property, that dirt may never have more soul than when those animals called it home.
Trust me, I understand the impulse of the young and not so young to sell and take it easy. There’s a reason for the popularity of taking it easy. Nadine, my great staff, and I have chosen the other way. Too many hours for less than top wages, the cold, the hot, rain that seems to come only in torrents, and that little 30 inch snow we had earlier this year (checking up on the baby pigs in the worst of the blizzard was very exciting!).
But I love this. I love everything about this; my morning chats with Henry while we listen to a little classic rock, feeding the pigs (who knew they make every sound except oink?), calling the chickens and smiling as they come running for treats or a petting, walking over the hill in the produce area and seeing the green carpet of vegetables, working at the market and getting to meet so many people, rebuilding the stuff on the farm, getting to work with great people, the smiles on the little tykes faces during the field trips and festival days, getting to play with the big toys, (I mean operating the equipment), and too many other things to mention.
When I started writing this, I was very sad thinking about Windswept Farm. Thinking about all the things I love about Whitehall Farm, has cheered me up. We’ll continue to take the hard way.

Thank you for helping,
Jeff Waters


Friday, June 3, 2016

Mikayla's Whitehall Experience

Last week we had a lovely visit from a few local girl scouts.

One of them wrote a summary of her visit and helped us by volunteering on the farm and posting fliers to earn a badge on the way to her Gold Award. Find out more about Mikayla's adventure here:

"Supporting our local economy and enjoying fresh produce at the same time!"

By: Mikayla

I recently had the pleasure of visiting a hidden treasure right in my hometown of Clifton, VA called Whitehall Farm. I stumbled upon their farm & market one day while I was looking for a way to fulfill a requirement towards earning my Girl Scout Gold Award.
We have passed Whitehall Farm dozens of times as we travel up and down Popes Head Road. Our family often wondered what was behind that little sign and gate but are typically running back and forth from practices, church or family visits.
When I entered the market early one Saturday morning I was immediately impressed by how cute and simple their newly constructed market is. A very friendly worker named Anna greeted me. Anna is the Market Manager. She told me all about their working farm that rests on 200+ acres adjacent to the Market. They offer tours and hands on workshops for elementary ages kids. They also have camps every Friday throughout the summer to teach kids fun was to farm and to involve our youth. They are looking for volunteer teenagers to assist that these weekly camps. I personally can’t wait to be part of such a fun filled summer experience. I was so impressed with Whitehall Farm because not only is this an amazing place to buy fresh local produce, but they are also showing kids first hand where their food comes from and what it takes to get it into our homes. It’s a reminder not to take the work of farming for granted; that the end product that sits nice and neat on the grocery store shelves is the labor of love for farmers.
I am a bit of a health nut and enjoy food options like hearty green salads, turnips, kale, and micro-greens. So when I saw a refrigerator full of these delicious foods I got a bit excited! They offer fresh eggs, milk and cheese. That’s just a small sampling of what is behind the doors of the Market. It wasn’t long before my mom and I grabbed a basket and filled it with these yummy treats. Their fresh eggs are stocked daily and better than any egg I have ever tasty. Did I mention the chocolate milk? Who needs chocolate ice cream when you can pick up fresh chocolate milk that is so rich and creamy it will leave you completely satisfied.
We went on a tour hosted by the Josh, the knowledgeable and enthusiastic farmer. It was so fascinating to see all of the hard work it takes for our food to be produced. Josh explained the operation in detail and the importance of keeping up the livestock, as well and gardens. I wish I could articulate everything I learned that day but it’s fresh in my memory and I will never forget his valuable teachings. Whitehall Farm is truly amazing! What a better way to support local farmers and buy fresh produce at the same time. It is less than three miles from the town of Clifton, Centreville High School and the Fairfax County Parkway. Their address and contact information are: 12523 Popes Head Road Clifton, VA 20124 703-968- 3900
                Please consider stopping by Whitehall Farm on June 11th for their open house. Take a moment to visit their website, like their Facebook page but most importantly spread the word and stop by. I promise, it will become part of your weekly routine. Bring your kids and teach the little ones the importance of freshness, flavor and sustainability that I is happening right here in our little town.