VALLEY GROWN: Farming, A Labor of Love. by India Keller

Farming is a labor of love, marked by uncertainty and risk – disease, pests, deep freezes, scorching heat, the rise and fall of customer demand, unexpected costs, back-breaking chores, and so on and so forth. The list of challenges seems endless, so why do people continue farming? This is what several Greenbrier Valley Grown farmers had to say about the heart and soul behind their operations, the passion that keeps them struggling through the sweat and tears, ploughing ahead despite the odds.

Sunset Berry Farm, WV

“There is a calmness and peacefulness that comes from farming. It stems from being close with the animals and the land. There is always a different adventure everyday so we are never bored. We love what we do and can’t imagine doing anything else!” – Carie and Bobby Ortman, Purple Mountain Phoinix Farm

“Growing food keeps me connected to the great sacred mysteries of life; sharing food keeps me connected to the people I love; selling food allows me to be part of a sustainable economic recovery for WV. These things make me happy!” – Anne Brown, Dogwood Hill Natural Gardens.

Salt Cave and Spa, WV

“Why am I a Farmer? One Life… Just One. Run like you’re on fire towards your wildest dreams.” – Rhonda Dortch, Bluestone Mountain Farm.

“We started farming our land out of a need to pay for the land itself and to fund college for our children. We have since become passionate about creating non-traditional ways of reaching buyers to promote agriculture as a means of providing income for ‘un’ or ‘under’-employed friends and neighbors in our community and supporting existing farms. West Virginia has a beautiful opportunity to fight poverty, unemployment and hunger and the answer is in our own back yard. So, we farm because we LOVE West Virginia!” – Jennifer Gilkerson, Sunset Berry Farm.

Greenbrier Chiropractic Center. Lewisburg, WV

“I love feeling like I’m exactly where I should be, and not wishing that I were anywhere else. That’s what I feel when I’m working in the garden.” – Carrie Hancock, Laurel Creek Farm.

“My love is all of nature, the heart of life, intimate, mysterious, seductive, powerful, unpredictable. Like sailing a great sea, teeth to the wind.” – Jennifer “Tootie” Jones, Swift Level.

Wild Bean Lewisburg WV

“Farming is about love and stewardship. You produce high quality local food so that you may feed and nurture your fellow mountaineers and build a healthy community!!” – Tim Peregoy, Azimuth Organics.

Visit to learn more about these and other GVG farms and food businesses.

– India Keller, Coordinator for Greenbrier Valley Local Foods Initiative. LBSPY #74. February, 2016.

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