Sperryville column for March 5

Belle Meade celebrates

Belle Meade School students at work in the farm’s vegetable patch last summer.
Belle Meade School students at work in the farm’s vegetable patch last summer.

In the upcoming weeks, there’s much ado at Belle Meade School. Painted in hues of bright blue and yellow, the school and main house (and B&B) and cottages are a familiar landmark for drivers along beautiful F.T. Valley Road. The property also encompasses a thriving farm, a place where cattle and free-range chickens reside, as well as horses and pigs. It’s a place where the children of Belle Meade School learn not only the words found in book-lined classrooms but also learn from their own hands and handiwork — on land stewardship.

Recently the school celebrated its 100th anniversary, of which the last 12 years have been under the able stewardship of Belle Meade’s Susan Hoffman and Mike Biniek. Now lovingly restored, it was a boarded-up vacant property when Susan and Mike made the decision to buy it in 1998. As Susan told me: “. . . It just sat here, and . . . well, the windows told me that they wanted to be open again.”

This Sunday (March 8), Belle Meade is offering an open house — a chance to “tour our beautiful campus, discover our unique program and experience learning in a natural setting. In our college preparatory program, students learn about life and themselves; they develop a sense of purpose; they realize their importance and their voices are heard.” The mission of Belle Meade “is to combine academic excellence and sustainable living.”

Belle Meade School’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program puts their philosophy of sustainability to practical use, offering not only beef, pork and poultry products but also vegetable offerings that are grown and harvested by the students themselves. This year the school will offer three options: vegetable, meat and egg; vegetable only; and meat only. These vegetables are grown using sustainable organic gardening methods and meats are grass fed and include finished beef, pastured pork and chicken.

Belle Meade’s kids also enjoy the arts. On March 13-14, the students will be putting on “The Addams Family Musical.” The play, Susan tells me, was chosen by students themselves and they are busy creating the set design. While the musical will be presented by the students, they have enjoyed the tutelage of opera singer David Rampy, father of one of the students.

On Saturday night (March 14), guests will also have the opportunity to savor the exquisite cuisine of our own culinary arts queen, Sylvie Rowand, who will prepare a four-course dinner with wine and a vegetarian option is available. Tickets to the dinner-theatre fundraiser are $85 per person; seating is limited so advance purchase is suggested. Tickets at bellmeadeschool.org or call 540-987-8970.

Chris Green
About Chris Green 144 Articles
Chris Green (formerly Chris Doxzen) is an an executive recruiter by profession who enjoys exploring and writing about all things Rappahannock. Friends and neighbors with potential stories for her Sperryville column should email her at chrisdoxzen@gmail.com.