The Rapp for March 9

Landowners meet your farmers

For beginning farmers, one of the greatest challenges is finding affordable farmland. For landowners, including some in Rappahannock County who want to see their land used for agricultural production, identifying interested farmers is complicated.

Farmer Katharine Wilson and landowner Holly Maillet met at last year’s PEC networking event and have since formed Berrey Hill Farm in nearby Madison County. Courtesy photo

So the Piedmont Environmental Council [PEC] is providing resources and networking opportunities for farmland seekers and landowners. At the end of this month, the PEC we will be hosting at its Warrenton headquarters three free events as part of a farmland access workshop series.

On Thursday afternoon, March 23, from 1 to 4 p.m., there will be a workshop for “landowners” — providing information and resources on agricultural and conservation considerations that can be incorporated into leasing arrangements.

Speakers will include Timothy Mize of Virginia Cooperative Extension, who will discuss assessing agricultural possibilities and how to plan for the agriculture activity best suited for your property. Casey Dietzen, soil conservationist at the Natural Resources Conservation Service [NRCS], will be on hand to present information and resources on conservation practices: developing a farm plan, conservation planning and cost share programs.

The farmer panel will include Rappahannock County’s own Molly and Mike Peterson of Heritage Hollow Farms and Mike Sands of Bean Hollow Grassfed. Both farms have leasing arrangements and they will describe their operations, their experiences working with VCE and NRCS programs and offer their perspectives on developing a lease with production and conservation measures in mind.

That same evening from 7 to 9 p.m. there will be a workshop for “land seekers” covering the land access module from the Whole Farm Planning Program put together by Virginia Tech and the Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition.

Jim Hankins, executive director of the Fauquier Education Farm and instructor for the Northern Piedmont Beginning Farmer Program, will guide land seekers through series of worksheets and planning practices that will help develop a farm vision with land acquisition goals.

Finally, on Thursday, March 30, from 7 to 9 p.m. there will be a combined networking social hour for both landowners and land seekers. This will be held at the Wort Hog Brewing in Warrenton, where participants can break the ice and make new connections.

“The most successful farmland matches are built on relationships between land seekers and landowners who are well-prepared, informed and supported,” says the PEC’s Jess Palmer.

The PEC headquarters is located at 45 Horner Street in Warrenton.

It’s Second Friday!

Joan Vernikos Courtesy photo

This Friday, March 10 at 8 p.m. the Second Friday at the Library speaker will be NASA scientist Joan Vernikos, who will tell us “How to Age Better and Other Space Stories.” (The talk will be at the usual venue, the library.) Vernikos, who lives in Culpeper, spent many years studying what happens to astronauts in zero gravity. What happens is a sad tale – they grow old and weak much too fast. Vernikos will tell us what we here on Earth can learn from astronauts in space.

She has written a new book called Designed to Move, about practical, easy steps we can take to dodge the astronauts’ fate. (One hint – sitting is the enemy.) Vernikos is lively and engaging, and her advice is fact-based and grounded in science. The talk is free. All are welcome (and, as a bonus, Rappahannock’s favorite raconteur, Nevill Turner, will introduce the speaker).

It’s Second Saturday!

The Rappahannock community and visitors alike are encouraged to experience a sampling of the artistic talent and creativity in our beautiful county this Saturday, March 11 — the Artisan Trail’s “Second Saturday” Open Door Event.

This is just the first Second Saturday of the season. It’s a monthly opportunity for the members of the Trail to collaborate on special promotions, classes, demonstrations, and open their studios.

Rappahannock artist and ‘Second Saturday’ organizer Patti Brennan models the Open Door Tour banner. Photo by John McCaslin

We turn to Patti Brennan, Rappahannock’s talented stained glass and mosaic artist — and the Artisan’s Trail blazer — for this Saturday’s lineup of open houses and events:

Belle Meade B & B: “Footloose”, the musical. Dancing isn’t a crime, but missing “Footloose” would be. Presented by Belle Meade School. March 11, soup & bread at 1:15 p.m., show at 2:00 p.m. Adults: $20, students: $15. Also at Belle Meade take a tour of Belle Meade B & B and farm, stay for 2 nights and receive $20 off for each night. All farm products 10 percent off.

Blue Ridge Artisans: Two events featured: DKArtFelt (Artist, Dabney Kirchman) is offering Wool Worry-Stone Workshop (hand-made felt!) Time: 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Cost: $35.00.

Spirit Trail Fiberworks: Artist Jennifer Heverly is offering a Learn to Knit Workshop, a free 30-minute knitting lesson with the purchase a beginner’s knitting kit. Lessons will begin every half hour, available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additional 10 percent off all Spirit Trail Fiberworks purchases made in-studio on March 11.

Hughes River Trading Co.: Artist Margaret Rogers is having a demonstration on the Secrets of Intaglio Printmaking ~ Methods, materials, & press. Rogers will explain and demonstrate by pulling prints. Prints will be for sale in the gallery and coffee tasting room in the Roastery. Coffee and Art! What could be better? No Fee. Demo time: Noon to 4:30 p.m.

Ridge Line Designs LLC: Artist Gina Irwin you will find a wide variety of vintage and estate jewelry, a large selection of Native American and handmade “one of a kind” pieces by Gina Irwin. Gina’s Beaded Necklaces are on sale for Second Saturday. Time 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., no fee.

Middle Street Gallery: Tn art reception for “Haiku”! The Middle Street Gallery Artist members will exhibit their work accompanied by “Haiku”. Opening Reception March 11, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Rappahannock Cellars: Come and get your glass engraved by local artist Patty Sevre! Cost varies by design and detail of what you want engraved. Patty can engrave any glass including wine glasses and wine bottles (yes, even full ones)! Time: 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

To find out more information about the Second Saturday “Open Door Tour” go to blog and select Rappahannock County Artisan Trail, where you will find links to these participants member page. As you travel about the county, keep an eye out for the yellow “Open Door Tour” banners, which help identify the locations for March. If you are interested in joining the Artisan Trail, please contact Patti Brennan at 540-987-8615

Vatican to Castleton

World-renowned operatic singer DeAndre Simmons performs Franz Schubert’s epic song cycle Die Winterreise alongside pianist Robert Cassidy Sunday, March 19, at 4 p.m., at Castleton in Performance (CiP).

World-renowned singer DeAndre Simmons (bass) performs Franz Schubert’s Die Winterreise with pianist Robert Cassidy, at the Castleton Theatre House on Sunday, March 19, at 4 p.m. Courtesy photo

Simmons, a Castleton Festival alum, has performed for seven U.S. presidents, Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden, Pope John Paul II, and Nelson Mandela. Cassidy, who has previously played accompaniment to Simmons’ vocals, has received widespread acclaim for his performances and recordings of both solo piano repertoire and chamber music.

The two musicians will perform arguably one of the most beautiful song cycles ever written, a masterpiece by Schubert about a man’s reflections on his lost love during a journey through a wintery night.

“DeAndre’s unforgettable performance in Die Winterreise brings to life the pain and sorrow of the song cycle’s narrator, first told two hundred years ago,” said Burnett Thompson, director of CiP. “We are honored to have DeAndre and Robert’s incredible talent on stage for our audience.”

“We are honored to have DeAndre and Robert continue the 2017 CiP year with Schubert’s most beautiful work,” said Castleton CEO and Artistic Director Dietlinde Maazel. In 1997, she and her husband, Maestro Lorin Maazel, converted the once-overlooked chicken house into today’s Castleton Theatre House, one of the most exquisite performance spaces in the world.

Tickets for this CiP 20th Anniversary concert range from $20 to $40, and the performance will be held in the Theatre House (663 Castleton View Road, Castleton, Va.), an intimate, state-of-the-art 140-seat proscenium theatre. There will be one intermission. Call 703.489.8704 for more information and visit to purchase tickets.

Mark your calendars

A primary will be held on Tuesday, June 13, across Virginia to nominate candidates for the statewide offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Members of the Virginia House of Delegates. This will be a “dual” primary, meaning voters will nominate candidates from the Democratic and Republican parties.

Rappahannock County Director of Elections Kimberly McKiernan explained that in a dual primary there are separate ballots for Democratic and Republican candidates. “When voters show up at their polling places,” she said, “they will be required to select which party ballot they wish to vote.”

Elections for Supervisor and School Board positions in the Piedmont and Stonewall-Hawthorne districts will be on the 2017 November General Election ballot but are not part of the June primary. The BoS positions are currently held by Chris Parrish and Mike Biniek. School Board positions are currently held by Larry Grove and Aline Johnson.

Some jurisdictions will also be selecting constitutional officers in the primary, but McKiernan said that Rappahannock County does not have any constitutional officers up for reelection in the primary or in the General Election in November.

McKiernan said that voters will not have to re-register for the primary. To check or update your registration, go to If you have questions Call McKiernan’s office at 540-675-5380.

Thank you for serving

The Chester Gap Volunteer Fire and Rescue department has held their annual officer elections. Returning for yet another year as fire chief is Todd Brown, who has become a fixture of the fire and rescue services not only in Chester Gap but also within Rappahannock and Warren Counties. Returning as assistant fire chief is Kevin Williams, who began his fire and rescue career as a junior member at Chester Gap VFD and advanced himself and his skill set to become a professional fireman and department officer for the U.S government.

Stepping up to the fire captain position is Thomas Nowell. Thomas joined and began his first responder career just a few short years ago but has steadily applied himself and is rapidly advancing his skill set. Returning as fire lieutenant is Michael “Opie” Williams who also started his volunteer career as a junior member at Chester Gap VFD and has advanced through the ranks holding various positions.

Filling the position of EMS captain again is the dedicated Angelica Vittitow, who has proven herself time and again and has become a solid part of the base of the department.

On the board of directors side, returning as president is Chris Ubben, who is assisted by Michael Wolnevich as vice president. New in the treasurer position is Phillip Charles, owner of a local bed and breakfast and retired from the Washington, D.C. fire department. Phillip has replaced long time treasurer Maybelle Gilkey, who continues to support the department but has understandably chosen to pass on the position after roughly two decades of service.

Also new is Chris Cooper who has filled the secretary position. Chris is a EMT and a teacher at Wakefield Country Day School. Returning to the member-at-large position is Junior Jenkins, a local volunteer who along with his fiancée Amanda North have welcomed a new baby recently.

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