Fauquier County is a special place for a number of reasons. Some of the reasons that stand out to me and many Fauquier residents are its combination of agriculture in Fauquier County, historic towns and proximity to the jobs and markets of the DC metro area. And as many have pointed out, we have had the community strength and vision to not go the way of Loudoun and Prince William Counties— we are fighting to preserve our farmland and concentrate smart development in planned service districts. This is a humane, noble and admirable vision. It is one that will make a place we will be proud to pass along to our children, and it will make a place where our children will be inspired to make their homes and continue our tradition of care.
My name is Jesse Straight, and I am the owner and lead farmer of Whiffletree Farm, just 3 miles south of Old Town Warrenton. We raise and sell chicken, eggs, turkey, pork and beef—all on fresh pasture, no antibiotics, no chemicals, no GMO feeds – and our beef is 100% grass-fed! As a native Fauquier resident with the hopes of making my home and farm here for the rest of my life, and with seven young kids who I aspire to tempt to make their lives locally, I am very interested in all the vitality of Fauquier County—towns too! But of course, I have an especial interest in the health and vitality of the agricultural of Fauquier County.
As a way to introduce you to a bit of Fauquier Agriculture, I will tell you what we do and why we think it is so good! Like I mentioned, we raise and sell chicken, eggs, turkey, pork and beef, but in one sense you might say what we really raise is grass that happens to end up as meat and eggs! This is one way to point out that our farming practices are critically built on the principle of fresh pasture!
Think about what animals do in the wild. Do they like to hang around the same old spot where the grass has been eaten, where they have mucked it up, where predators have an easy, planned approach, and where harmful viruses, bacteria, and parasites have a paradise of unsanitary conditions and a captive host? No way! Animals are on the move! Moving to fresh, healthy forage. Moving on to clean, sanitary ground. And staying on the move to make life hard for any pathogen—predators, harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites! So that is what we do—we are moving animals to fresh pasture every day! This allows the animals to thrive naturally, and hence, not need antibiotics or chemical wormers, etc.! And guess what!? It just so happens when you make animals healthy and happy by keeping them on the move, it also makes the land healthy and happy! Soil, microbes and grasses like to get manured and grazed, but not overgrazed and overfertilized; and they like to have enough rest to metabolize that impact for regrowth.
So here is one little look-see into how we try to approximate how animals thrive in nature in our goal of raising food that is healthy for the land, animals, eaters, farmers and community! I hope this has whetted your appetite (pun intended) and you will come visit us and many of the other beautiful agriculture in Fauquier County and join the mission of supporting and protecting the beautiful farmland of Fauquier for the next generations!
May your eyes be full of Fauquier beauty, your kitchens and bellies full of Fauquier food, and your Fauquier farmers on the top of your list of neighbors to meet!
For more information visit www.whiffletreefarmva.com.
By Jesse Straight
Photos Courtesy of Whiffletree Farm