A big HOKIE, HOKIE, HOKIE HI from Wahoo country. My name is Kim Love. I am the branch manager for the Charlottesville office of Farm Credit of the Virginias.
My way back story doesn’t include adventures in farming or agriculture. I grew up in Worcester County, Maryland. At that time, Runaway Bride had not put Berlin on the map and it was just another small, old town with a dog food factory and a poultry processing plant. Recently named America’s coolest small town, the only cool thing about Berlin back then was its proximity to Ocean City and the beach, just a ten mile trip down Route 50.
I am certain that livestock ownership was never in my parents plan but after years of my constant petitioning, they finally relented and gave me the reins to my first horse when I was eight. Several more followed, of course, and it was the beginning of an addiction or some would say “an affliction.” It was through the horse world that I found a mentor in a local 4H club led by a remarkable woman named Dale. My years in 4H and the connections I made through the 4H program introduced me to the larger world of agriculture and it sparked a passion.
I couldn’t leave the eastern shore fast enough when I headed for the mountains of southwest Virginia and Virginia Tech. Four years later, with a degree in animal science, two rejection letters from vet school, unemployed and broke, I drove east and pulled up in the middle of Virginia’s horse country.
The years that followed included a few horse jobs, employment with Southern States , a couple of positions with the local soil and water conservation districts and ultimately an entry level loan officer position with Warrenton Farm Credit. Agriculture finance agreed with me. I was fortunate to have a great manager and who taught me the finer details of credit and lending in addition to the production basics and cash flow scenarios of farming operations. I valued the time spent with the local farmers, mostly dairy and beef, learning everything I could about their operations, and working with them toward achieving their business goals.
With the loss of full-time farms in the northern piedmont and greater Charlottesville area due to population growth, development pressures, and economic challenges, my clientele has increasingly become part-time farmers and rural homeowners and my lending role has evolved. After 27 years in agricultural and residential lending and despite the endless changes in regulations, I still love my job. It never gets old meeting new people or revisiting longtime customers, discussing their agricultural venture however small or large or helping them buy a farm property or build a home on their land. The interest in local, sustainable agriculture especially among young people and the community is refreshing and especially so in Albemarle County which boasts over 40 wineries, breweries, and distilleries in addition to a growing network of CSAs and smaller niche farms that serve a heavily suburban and largely locavore population.
As for the lack of my own personal agriculture story, I am starting to write that chapter now with a recent relocation to a 200 acre farm in Augusta County with my “new to farming” best friend. He brought the cows, I brought the horses, and the farm brings a lot of productive hay ground, a mile or more of bad fence, and a house that needs much love.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I have two awesome sons in my life. Grayson is a 2017 graduate of Radford University and current student at Jefferson College of Medical Sciences and Jacob is a first year student who chose UVA over Virginia Tech (I have mostly forgiven him).
I am grateful to have this opportunity to be a VALOR Class IV member. For someone who is on the down slope of life and longer in the tooth than most of the other members, my mission is to make sure that the experience is not lost on me. I look forward to spending time and sharing the educational value of this program over the next two years with a highly diverse and enthused group of fellow classmates.
Being present in Charlottesville for a while has been an interesting reminder that Thomas Jefferson’s legacy was not simply his political leadership. The university reflected his appetite for learning and he believed that “every day is lost in which we do not learn something useful. Man has no nobler or more valuable possession than time.” It was his farm operation however, that revealed his true love for agriculture and the environment. He said it best in a letter to George Washington in 1787 when he wrote “Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness. ”
Agriculture has been my pursuit to happiness.