Loudoun photo by Susan VanEppsLoudoun Producer                                                                        February 2015

Register for the Forum for Rural Innovation by March 6

You're invited to the 11th annual Forum for Rural Innovation to be held Friday, March 13, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the  Best Western Conference Center in Winchester.

The forum will showcase projects and programs that can help rural businesses be more profitable. It will also feature exhibits by agricultural suppliers, support agencies, and area businesses.

Registration is $40 per person and includes morning refreshments and a buffet lunch. Seating is limited; pre-registration by March 6 is required. Call 703-777-0426 or download the registration form from our website. 

Showcase Your Farm on the Spring Farm Tour

Loudoun's annual Spring Farm Tour is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 16-17. If you'd like to participate, please review the tour policies and guidelines, and complete the online application.

The Spring Farm Tour is a free, self-guided tour showcasing local, active farms in the county. The goal of this event is to promote Loudoun's farms and agricultural community; increase awareness of Loudoun's rural economy, and educate the public about agriculture. The tour is an introduction to the growing season and informs consumers about locally grown products.

This year's Spring Farm Tour will be held during Loudoun Small Business week. Keep an eye out for great networking and learning opportunities on the Loudoun SourceLink website.

Make It Easier to Care for Your Flock

The Loudoun Valley Sheep Producers invite you to a free educational event on Wednesday, April 15, from 7:30 - 9 p.m. at the Loudoun County Extension Office at 30 Catoctin Circle, SE in Leesburg.

Susan Schoenian will speak on "Similarities and Differences in Raising Sheep and Goats." This international speaker and prolific writer will share from her extensive knowledge on sheep and goat nutrition, managing their diseases and behavioral problems, and economics and marketing.

Schoenian is the Sheep and Goat Specialist at the Western Maryland Research and Education Center, and has been with the University of Maryland Extension since 1988. Take advantage of this great opportunity to get your sheep and goat questions answered by an ovine and caprine expert!

Farmers Rush to Open Breweries

Loudoun County is on the way to becoming the leader of Virginia's growing craft beer movement. Within days of the new farm brewery ordinance being passed, half a dozen farmers applied for a brewery permit. Loudoun now allows farm breweries on agricultural land where ingredients used in the beer are grown on the farm.


Eight breweries already operate in Loudoun; the new ordinance lets farmers outside Loudoun towns operate breweries.


"We have everything in Loudoun to make farm breweries an incredibly successful industry," said Loudoun Economic Development Director Buddy Rizer. "Loudoun has the ideal customer base for craft breweries. We're a growing community with people who are passionate about quality crafted products," added Kellie Boles, the county's agricultural business officer.


One of the biggest contributors to Loudoun brewers' success will be the new Lucketts Mill / HopWorks processing facility that was announced by the governor in November.

We Have a Match! Land-Leasing Program Success:
Orchardcroft and Scheel Farm

One of the main challenges that beginning farmers face is affording land. Farms can take years before they become profitable, and many farmers can't afford a large mortgage payment when they're starting out. On the flip side, many Loudoun landowners, who've had land in their family for generations, now own property that's not being fully used. The new land-linking program was conceived as a way to bring these two groups together. 

Charlie Case learned about the new land-linking program from an email sent out to the Blue Ridge Cattlemen's Association last year. He reports, "I was in dire need of land and Jim [Hilleary] got it for me."


Jim Hilleary runs the Loudoun office of Virginia Cooperative Extension, and was able to connect Case to Loudoun property owner Gene Scheel. Scheel had land and was willing to provide access to a producer who would invest in the soil and care for the property. To him, the ideal arrangement was a long-term written contract that specified the responsibilities and expectations of both the property owner and the producer leasing the property. 


A five-year lease was exactly what Case was looking for, too. "By getting a five-year lease, I'm able to put time and money into the ground." (A one-year lease is too short a time for most farmers to see the fruit of their efforts.)


As part of a coordinated effort to improve the rural economy by preserving the county's traditional agriculture, Loudoun Economic Development and Virginia Cooperative Extension are taking an active role to link property owners to producers. With this first match, Hilleary said, "We've scored a touchdown and want to put more points on the board." Anyone interested in the program should contact Hilleary at Jim.Hilleary@vt.edu .

Nominate Your Favorite Loudoun Building or Place

The Signatures of Loudoun Design Excellence Awards recognize Loudoun County's distinctive architecture and iconic designs. There are a number of categories, including public spaces, historic renovations, adaptive reuse and visually groundbreaking projects. Send in your nomination by March 11; details and an entry form are available online.

Where's Warren?

Guess where these pictures were taken and you may win a delicious prize! Warren Howell has a longtime connection to Loudoun economic development, and in each issue of this newsletter we test our readers by asking you to guess the rural location where we took Warren's photo.

While the day we visited was rather gloomy, this lovely garden was sure a treat. This garden started out as just six plants 20 years ago, and has been turned into a wonderful collection of more than 1,000 plants in 60 varieties. Be sure to visit this summer and try some lavender ice cream, lavender-infused honey, and tea.



Email us Warren's location by March 2 and be entered to win this lovely lavender product-filled basket from our featured farm! 

Hint: This farm has been on our Spring and Fall Farm Tours.


Did You Find Warren?

In our last issue, Warren was visiting the Hatch brothers. Chris Hatch keeps busy on many committees, driving a Loudoun County School bus and running the Mill Road Farm. Keep an eye out for him and his produce (grass-finished Angus beef; honey; pastured lamb; cuts by the piece) at Cascades and Leesburg farmers markets this spring. We are also excited for the new custom-built barn/tasting room that Bill Hatch of Zephania Winery is building. The winery will reopen from its winter break on February 28 and expects to open the tasting room late spring.



Congratulations to our winners Susan and John Stanford for finding Warren!


Loudoun Producer will be published three times per year: the October issue is printed, and December and February issues will be sent by email. To be added to our list for all three, just send an email with your name and address that says "Loudoun Producer" to: LoudounBiz@loudoun.gov.