Confronting the struggling farm sector

What are your ideas to improve Rappahannock’s farm community? What’s missing to help farming and food enterprises thrive in Rappahannock County? What can the citizens of the county build on to improve our farm sector?

Farming has always been an important component of Rappahannock life. From apples to beef cattle to hay production to wine grapes, farm production has helped define our county. It is a way of life, it creates jobs, it defines our landscape. However, the face of agriculture seems to be changing.

In Rappahannock County, as in other parts of the country, agriculture is struggling. Farmers are growing older. Competition for markets is acute. Land is being priced beyond its agricultural value. However, again as in other parts of the country there are encouraging signs. New younger farmers are willing to try to establish new farm businesses, food entrepreneurs are looking to create markets for local production. The role of a healthy farm sector is being recognized as an important component of climate resiliency.

Community members, farmers and entrepreneurs in Rappahannock County are interested in exploring the potential to expand and strengthen the county’s local food system. In last year’s countywide survey, maintaining family farms was ranked the 4th highest concern out of 25 countywide issues. Recent articles in the Rappahannock News have generated much conversation around land use, including how it relates to farming and rural economic development, as well as food insecurity.

We are looking to bring together a group of private Rappahannock citizens and interested persons to explore opportunities to improve the prospects for farming, food production and food related businesses in the county. Our initial public effort will be to convene an afternoon workshop on January 20th to engage the public in a discussion of this topic.

John Piotti, the new Executive Director of American Farmland Trust, has agreed to speak on the linkage of national trends and the potential for Rappahannock County. The goal of the event will be to raise awareness about what’s happening with farming and local food issues nationally, and to explore what bearing this has for Rappahannock.

It is our intent that this is the beginning of a longer term program to initiate practical private and public efforts to strengthen our farm and food community. Join us on January 20th at the Washington Fire Hall from 12 to 4 p.m. A light lunch and beverage will be available (at no cost). RSVPs are requested thru Additional questions can be sent to:


Mike Sands, Molly Peterson, Maya Atlas, Jonathan Uribe, Melanie Kopjanski, David Massie, Stacey Carlberg, Mike Cannon, Kate Wofford, Van Carney, Jenna Brownell, Blake Brown, Kenner Love, John Genho, Craig Batchelor, Sheila Gresinger, John McCarthy, Laurie Smith, Colleen O’Bryant

Steering committee

Luke Christopher
About Luke Christopher 103 Articles
Luke is a "Best of D.C." photographer who has been published, in print, in The Washington Post, The Washington Times and Miami New Times. He started his photography career as a reporter for the University of Maryland's daily newspaper and served as the entertainment editor for "City Living " magazine. Website: