Thoughts of a Grass Farmer…

My name is CJ Isbell, and I live in Rockville, Va located in western Hanover County.  My family’s has a long history in agriculture; from by great-grandfather working for Virginia Dairy, my grandfather’s commercial farming operation, to the direct marketing farming operation I co-own today.

My grandfather started our farm in 1951, starting with over 5000 laying hens and an egg distribution route in Richmond, expanding into a commercial beef, hog, and grain operation.  While my father stopped farming full-time during the farm crisis of the 80’s, and the inability to of our family farm to fully support 2 families.  My grandfather semi-retired from farming in 1998, keeping a small hay operation and leasing out most of the land to a neighboring farmer.  Six years ago I started the process of transitioning the farm.  After seeing the experiences of my family with commodity farming I felt the need to produce in a different direction.  I along with my father, wife and kids produce quality grass-fed beef, pastured pork, free-range chicken, eggs, and cash grains.  All of our products are marketed directly to the consumer via on farm store, farmers markets, and online co-ops.  With 500 family’s as customers it keeps us busy.  Check out our website, and like us on facebook

In addition to managing the farm, I work as a fireman with the Washington DC Fire Department, and as the Farm Mentor Coordinator with the Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition housed at Virginia Tech.  Above all I am a family man, thanks to my wife Jessica, and my kids Faith, Landon.  Without their support all achievements are meaningless.

Why VALOR – It seems as though agriculture is an increasingly divided industry, at times pitting farmer against farmer based on type/area of production.  I have seen this first hand as the change in generation on our farm and transitioning from commercial production to more organic production the differences in opinions can be quite stark.  I feel that there is enough room at the table for all type/area of production for those willing to step up and work together to support and promote agriculture as a whole.  The issues of today effect all farmers small to large and for us to work together in imperative, as there is strength in numbers.

I hope to further the development of the professional skill needed to better communicate, advocate, and represent on behalf of agriculture.  I look forward to this journey over the next 2 years.

An Investment in Knowledge Pays the Best Interest – Benjamin Franklin

2 thoughts on “Thoughts of a Grass Farmer…

  1. Pingback: Say cheese. | VA-Leaders-OR

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