Whippoorwill . . . the name melts in your mouth like a soft dinner mint. It conjures up images and sounds of the soft feathered wings of birds in flight, framed in the expanse of a powder blue sky.
Whippoorwill Farm, located at the end of a long and winding Piedmont Avenue in Little Washington, is Rob Grey’s 700-acre odyssey of lush pastures and forested woodland, hosting all manner of creatures, wild and domestic, including mangalitsa hogs which are a heritage breed lard pig, american guinea hog, also a long haired heritage breed; purebred angus, purebred wagyu/angus cross, bronze breasted turkeys, a mixed flock of chickens of red sex links; delaware, arraconna, true blue whiting, and mallard ducks, ring-neck pheasants and more.
The rich gardens overflow with fresh vegetables and fruits all available at Whippoorwill’s recently reopened Farm to Table country store, a click away at whippoorwillfarmtotable.com, but you definitely have to visit this Rappahannock paradise.
The shelves are brimming with all manner of seasonal goods. Early and late peaches, pears, apples, plums, pluots (hybrid of apricots and plums), cherries, raspberries, blueberries, black raspberries, strawberries, blackberries.
A variety of vegetables include heirloom tomatoes (striped german, cherokee purple, purple russian, sungold). Beans include king of the garden lima beans, dragons lingerie, taverna; carrots and black nebula, sugarsnax beets; chioggia, golden, daikon radish; fresh breakfast radish and (D’auvignon) black radish; nero tondo, shunkyo; turnips and Hakuri, Scarlet Queen, purple snow peas, asian greens; bekana, bok choy, collards, kale, lettuce; salanova, wildfire mix, braising mixes, patty pan squash and more.
Meats offered include everything from 17 varieties of sausage to burgers, fine steak, pork, and more.
Jenna Brownell and Blake Brown, the farmers, share with Rob a profound commitment to being good stewards of the land. They have extensive farming experience and it’s evident in their command and knowledge of state of the art farming techniques and practices.
All of Whippoorwill Farm animals are raised and finished on pasture. They treat the animals with respect and compassion and celebrate “beyond organic” practices, producing flavor profiles not found in conventionally grown produce. Their laying hens are moved around the farm to allow them fresh foraging as well as to spread out excellent pasture fertilizer.
Hens are supplemented with a GMO and soy free feed produced and provided from a local farm. The farm pastures are managed naturally using the animals to foster rotational grazing and not with sprays and synthetic fertilizers. They use non-GMO seeds and are organic and eco friendly, and use IPM (integrative pest management) and floating row cover and release beneficial insects, such as lacewings, praying mantis, and ladybugs to help deter garden pests.
Recently Rob and Blake took me on a tour of the farm in an off road mud warrier. While I’m told I’m the maestro of adjectives, my words fail me in describing the sheer beauty of this Valhalla, the myriad projects underway, the ongoing efforts to rebuild miles of stone walls, and culverts, the commitment to oxygenating the water, managing the sediment, and controlling water flow. They are protecting the watershed and the land, all in conservation easement.
Whippoorwill is a sanctuary, acres of land devoted to the planting of American Dunstan Chestnuts, orchards aplenty and raising English Oaks inoculated with mycelium for blackberry perigold truffles.
Jenna tells that they have honeybees and will sell the honey when harvested and are eventually putting in a small scale certified kitchen to make their own preserves in coming years.
Plans are also under way to go solar, and new processing facilities are in the works. One such facility is a state of the art operation whereby lettuce is washed and sanitized; indeed, entering the building one walks first on spongy mats filled with a disinfectant to insure the integrity of the buildings cleanliness.
Whippoorwill Farm is an extraordinary enterprise and Rob and Blake and Jenna’s enthusiasm is infectious, they share a focus and mission and it is one of great vision. We wish you much success in your valiant endeavors and look forward to many years of enjoying your harvests.
Whippoorwill is open Friday Noon to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment.