As I reflect on our time visiting Southside Virginia, one theme that stands out for me is the importance and power of vision, which shines through at the Olde Dominion Ag Complex. The facility seems like a huge asset to the agricultural community. It took incredible vision for the 9 farmers who started the idea to come together and work with organizations in the community to turn the idea into reality.
I was impressed by Robert Mills’ success as a first generation farmer. He had incredible vision to build his diversified farm to where it is today. With so many different components to his farm, I’m not sure how he keeps it all running smoothly, but he has made strategic decisions to make the timing of each component work while allowing for good cash flow throughout the year.
Another piece of the conversation with Robert that stuck with me was his reflection of his time serving on the Virginia Tech Board of Trustees. He talked about feeling so different from the others serving on the board, but how much value that diversity provided. As he got to know the fellow trustees, he became their go-to resource on questions about agriculture. Building relationships is essential to advocating for agriculture, solving problems and making advancements for rural communities. This is an area I hope to improve on myself. There are so many opportunities to get involved in community organizations in northern Virginia and I need to take the time to find some that are a good fit for me. Getting more involved in local groups will allow me to build relationships and not only help me feel better connected to my urban community, but will likely provide opportunities to answer questions about agriculture and rural life.