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 by clicking
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 two.
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 "Bypass."
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 yours.
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.