Hidden Beauty

Our July seminar took us to beautiful southwest Virginia. We toured Virginia Produce Company, River Ridge Land & Cattle, Grayson Natural Beef, Landcrafted Food, a coal mine, Bottomly Evergreens, VDACS regional veterinary lab, Duchess Dairy, Burke’s Garden and Foxwood Farm. These are all very different agricultural operations ranging from produce, milk bottling, sheep, cattle, beef sticks, Christmas trees and lab testing. Like most Virginians we typically are familiar with our locality but never realize the diverse and hidden beauty the other areas of our state have.
The operations we toured each had their own beauty in my opinion. At Virginia Produce Company I found beauty in their approach to employees and their philosophy of “I don’t want to be the biggest but I want to be the best at what I do.” River Ridge Land & Cattle have been able to partner with others to preserve land while producing natural beef. Grayson Natural Beef is able to take natural cattle from River Ridge and other local producers and harvest them for Landcrafted Food. Landcrafted Food processes that beef into beef sticks that are sold both domestically and internationally. The beauty of these enterprises is the way that they have been able to work together to be profitable while preserving land and offering another marketing avenue for local beef producers.
Duchess Dairy has created a market for locally produced milk and was a vital part of providing milk during supply chain disruptions we all experienced during COVID. The beauty of Duchess is that not only are they supplying nutritious products, but they have been able to help keep a local dairy in business. Bottomly Evergreens is a large, multi-state operation and their beauty is being able to keep land in agriculture that might otherwise be developed. VDACS beautifully provides services to agricultural producers all over the state to help them manage their operations and identify challenges they are facing. Burke’s Garden is not only visually beautiful but the hidden beauty I found was the close-knit community that exists there. Foxwood Farm raises sheep, but the beauty is that they have developed a market demand for their meat while diversifying to utilize the natural beauty of the land to offer it as a wedding venue, a retreat and much more. The coal mine that we were able to tour held the hidden beauty of a deep, rich history of the local area and the perseverance of those providing for their families.
Through my experience in this seminar I have come to the realization that there is a hidden beauty in the diversity of agriculture and the diversity of enterprises. There have always been discussions and arguments about big versus small farms, organic versus conventional, owning land versus renting land, and so on. As agriculturists and agriculture supporters we need to realize the hidden beauty in each type of agriculture enterprise. As an industry we have been able to adapt and realize opportunities that are unique to each of us and the demands of consumers to continue to grow and thrive. While there is no cookie cutter set up for agriculture enterprises, we need to look for the hidden beauty and share it with other producers and consumers. While we all know not everything and every moment in agriculture is beautiful there is also beauty to be found in the struggles and challenges. Not only will I challenge myself but I will challenge those of you reading this to find the hidden beauty in the opportunities and challenges that come your way.

1 thought on “Hidden Beauty”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s