wrote bimonthly in 2005 for our New Farmer Journal
from Stoney Lonesome Farm about the trials and
tribulations of getting started.
Read more about Pablo and Stoney Lonesome Farm
Posted January 12, 2007: Our first three
CSA seasons here at Stoney Lonesome Farm in Gainesville, Virginia,
have been a crash course in how to grow a diverse range of
vegetables, how to work with and build a community of support
around our farm, and how to navigate any of a thousand different
challenging scenarios. We have benefited tremendously from
the knowledge and experience of others doing CSA programs,
and from the accrued wisdom of the small farm community. We
have been supported and encouraged through our tough first
years by a local food network that recognizes the urgency
of growing the next generation of farmers and preserving remaining
farmland for an uncertain future.
Every day this country is losing acres of fertile soil to
development. Often, even the farms that do thrive are punished
for doing so. Our farm grows nourishing food instead of mansions
and builds topsoil instead of bulldozing it for homes; we
often describe our farm as an island in the outer-’burbs.
While development gobbles up farmland at a dizzying pace through
sales of farms, the farmer who chooses to not sell stands
the increased risk of having the farm taken by eminent domain
laws. If your farm is surrounded by sprawl, it will undoubtedly
emerge as the scarce remaining open space desired for highways,
power lines and pipelines.
Now in 2007, in the brave new world of eminent domain, we
are fighting for the future of our farm. In the past two months,
we have had not just one line drawn through our farm, but
A preliminary study for the "Buckland Bypass,"
a proposed major highway to connect commuters from an adjacent
county to Interstate 66 while avoiding our town of Gainesville,
features a route that would plow right through the heart of
Stoney Lonesome Farm, through our main pond.
As if that is not enough, the latest map of Dominion Power’s
proposed transmission line runs 15-story towers and a 500-kilovolt
power line not a hundred yards from the projected route of
The thought of living and working here on Stoney Lonesome
Farm under high voltage EMF radiation, while breathing exhaust
fumes from thousands of cars and trucks each day, is devastating.
The visual and functional impact of these projects on our
farm is hard to imagine: a major highway through our lower
fields—our best soil and the future of our farm operation;
monstrous transmission towers 15 stories tall and a 150'-wide
barren scar below them—all through the land we are planning
to steward far into the future.
Our farm is not a blank
space for future lines on a map.
In the context of higher fuel costs and recent large-scale
food distribution scares, local food systems emerge as a critical
resource well worth protecting. Metro areas need power and
roads, but they also need food. We took on the challenge of
farming this land, providing a source of food for our neighbors
and Washington, DC. Our farm is not a blank space for future
lines on a map.
Both the Buckland Bypass and the Dominion 500-kV Power Line
are unnecessary and ineffective fixes that would destroy some
of northern Virginia’s most pristine farmland, wetland/environmentally
sensitive areas, and areas of incredible historical and cultural
significance. The Bypass proposal represents a major commuter
detour that would literally pave the way for more sprawl and
traffic (and, in turn, more roads through more farms). The
power line proposal channels additional electricity production
from some of the dirtiest coal plants in the country, supposedly
to avoid speculated blackouts. In fact, a range of simpler
and less destructive measures can avert these blackouts during
periods of peak usage.
Seizing family farmland for projects that are destructive
in impact, unnecessary in purpose, and ineffective in design
represents a gross abuse of power and a rejection of common
sense and of American values.
Our farm is the product of centuries of hard work, it provides
local families with nourishing food, and it has a promising
future for which we will, and must, fight.
We need your help. We need the growing community of folks
who comprise the local food movement, from local food producers
to local food eaters, to support one another, not just at
the farm stand, but by taking a stand, as citizens, for the
protection of our remaining farmland. Local farmers are often
locally outnumbered. Please take a few minutes to visit our
farm website, www.slfarm.us,
to learn about how you can take action to support our farm.
We need your support as a citizen who cares about the future
of local food—we need your voice. Today it is our farm
in harm's way, tomorrow it may be your neighbor’s or
Concern for the well-being of Stoney Lonesome Farm and our
future here is sincerely appreciated. If all of us give a
public voice to our concerns, common sense will soon prevail
in these matters.