By Ron Jones & Janet A. Fast
As the temperatures rise, most of us want to get out and enjoy the great out of doors. A recent whirlwind trip to several area sites that will be on the Northern Neck Farm Tour May 26 revealed what awaits those who go exploring.
New to most of us is the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
While we visited only the Wilna Unit, the largest in a series of sites
along the river from Tappahannock northwest that comprises 987 acres, there
are approximately 4,000 acres in all in eight units.
A Great Blue Heron rookery, nesting and foraging ranges for wild turkeys, nesting and hunting areas for Red Shouldered and Red Tailed Hawks, Bald Eagles, many species of owls and songbirds, Virginia White-tailed Deer, woodchuck, skunk, opossum, rabbit, and squirrel species and much more. Two hundred acres of grasslands will be planted soon for an extended study related to songbirds. Two thousand hardwood trees have been planted to replace forest land that was cut away years ago to provide farming land.
Anyone who loves wildlife will find this site inspiring and fulfilling.
Joe McCauley is the Refuge Manager. This unit is located west of Warsaw
off State off Route 624, onto Sandy Lane and then right on Wilna Road.
The crops are marketed locally to food stores in the area extending from Tappahannock to Gloucester and Williamsburg.
Annually 50,000 pounds of tomatoes are harvested or about 2,000 pounds per week. There are currently two working hot houses that are heated with propane in cold weather and cooled with large fans in hot weather. The houses are composed of metal frames covered with heavy gauge plastic that Graziano now leases. A third house is in preparation.
Sample some of the hydroponically grown produce as it begins to appear
in a market near you.
Two handsome bulls roam among the herd between December 1 and April 1 for
breeding purposes but are segregated the remainder of the year. They are
all state approved animals that bear a Virginia brand.
Lowell and Peggy Starr’s farm Holyoke, circa 1841, is also in Lancaster County. “I love pulling up to this house,” Peggy mused about the long driveway, the end of which stands the lovely old house, surrounded by Locust and Sycamore trees. “It had six fireplaces, and today we use five of them.” Peggy was born in D.C. and never lived on a farm before moving to Holyoke. Lowell grew up in Kansas, on a wheat and cattle farm. After spending years behind a desk, Lowell yearned to get back on the farm and outside.
They double crop barley or wheat. Lowell planted corn with a wheat cover crop. The wheat uses no nitrogen, Peggy explains, so they plant in this manner as a conservation effort.
The Starrs bought the farm in August 1987, and moved in full time in 1991. The house was originally built by Robert Toler Dunaway. After his first wife died, he married Mary Dolly Dunaway, who helped build the house. Their oldest daughter inherited the property, and late in life married James E. Forester. They had no children. There is a small family cemetery which Peggy beautifies with flower plantings.
© 2001 Rev Ronald R. Jones and Janet Abbott Fast. All rights reserved.
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