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Cultivate july 2012

Virginia Farm Bureau

One farm, six generations: ‘I think that’s pretty sustainable’


Cultivate Volume 5, Number 3 July 2012


Cultivate (USPS 025051) (ISSN 1946-8121) is published four times a year, February, April, July, November/December (combined issue). It is published by Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, 12580 West Creek Parkway, Richmond, VA 23238. Periodicals postage rate is paid in Richmond, VA. The annual subscription rate is $1.48 (included in membership dues).


POSTMASTER: Please send changes of address to, Cultivate, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, P.O. Box 27552, Richmond, VA 23261; fax 804-290-1096. Editorial and business offices are located at 12580 West Creek Parkway, Richmond, VA 23238. Telephone 804-290-1000, fax 804-290-1096. Email address is Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. All advertising is accepted subject to the publisher’s approval. Advertisers must assume liability for the content of their advertising. The publisher maintains the right to cancel advertising for nonpayment or reader complaints about services or products. The publisher assumes no liability for products or services advertised.


Member: Virginia Press Association


Features 12 ‘Family farm’ is not a size Visit two larger-scale family farms—and the families themselves.

5 Virginians to vote on property rights amendment this fall This November, Virginians will vote on a constitutional amendment to curb eminent domain abuse. It’s a cause Farm Bureau has supported for several years.

22 The backyard gardener’s basics of weeding and watering Out-of-control weeds or a lack of water can shut down a home garden. Keep those tomatoes and peppers coming in with some basic weed control and irrigation practices.

6 Heart of the Home 8 Good for You!


Greg Hicks Vice President, Communications Pam Wiley Managing Editor Kathy Dixon Sr. Staff Writer/Photographer Sara Owens Staff Writer/Photographer

20 In the Garden

Bill Altice Graphic Designer

22 From the Ground Up

Cathy Vanderhoff Advertising

Maria La Lima Graphic Designer

30 Marketplace VISIT US ONLINE

Publication schedule Associate members will receive their next issue of Cultivate in November. The magazine is published quarterly.


Members – Address change?

On the Cover


Margaret Ann Smith and her brother are the sixth generation to be involved in her family’s Rockbridge County farm (Photo by Kathy Dixon).

If your address or phone number has changed, or is about to change, contact your county Farm Bureau. They will update your membership and subscription information.

Food for Thought

Coming to terms with conventional agriculture We live in a nation of 313 million people, on a planet with a population of 7 billion. We don’t all look alike, or vote alike (if we can vote) or live in the same kinds of homes or buy the same kinds of groceries. But, we’ve all got to eat on something of a regular basis. Obviously, that’s where agriculture comes into play, as it did ages ago. Historically, people have farmed to feed their families and their communities, and today about 2 percent of the U.S. population are farming to feed not only their neighbors but also people they’ll never meet, in places they’ll never see, in other parts of the world. You’ve met some of them. They’re selling their products at local farmers’ markets. Some of them you’re less likely to meet. They raise the hay and grains used to feed the animals that become your steaks, lamb kabobs and fried chicken. They grow the wheat, oats and corn for your cereal, bread and tortillas and the soybeans for your tofu. Large-scale family farms—those with annual sales of $250,000 or more—make up only 10 percent of U.S. farms, but they produce the largest share of farm products—more than 80 percent. They also have more invested in the supplies, equipment, labor and technology needed to keep up with the growing global demand for food. They’re the big farms with lots of acres or, in the case of livestock producers, lots of animals. Somewhere along the line, some of these farms got labeled “factory farms.” The earliest use of the term documented by Merriam-Webster is 1868, shortly after the Industrial Revolution. The comparison of a large-scale farm to a factory in that era of tremendous change is not surprising. At the same time, it’s not accurate. You

can’t create turkeys or pigs using steam- or coal-driven machines or even electric ones. You can use those technologies—and advances in crop science and veterinary medicine—to keep those animals fed and watered and ensure that their environment is comfortable and safe. And you can use those resources to raise food animals in a uniform manner that ensures grocery shoppers consistently get the product they expect. The definition of a factory farm is “a large industrialized farm; especially: a farm on which large numbers of livestock are raised indoors in conditions intended to maximize production at minimal cost.” If you read down a little farther, to the reader comments, there’s one from an Oklahoma farmer who defines factory farm as “a derogatory term used to

generate an emotional response for opponents of certain types of production.” Based on the Merriam-Webster definition, he notes, “most intensive confinement operations would not fall under this term because while maximizing production and minimizing costs is a goal in all forms of agriculture, … that is not the only objective or even the primary one.” For that reason, this issue of Cultivate features profiles of two larger Virginia farms and the families who operate them (See Page 12). And the November/ December issue will feature more profiles. Those families, like the families who operate 98 percent of Virginia farms, remain committed to healthy land, healthy food and a healthy future. And they told us to come on out—and take pictures.

About 2 percent of the U.S. population is involved in production agriculture. Cultivate JULY 2012


Farmland values called ‘barometer’ for industry’s well-being by pam wiley

Farm real estate accounted for 84 percent of the total value of U.S. farm assets in 2009, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released earlier this year. And strong farm earnings might have helped farmland real estate markets withstand the downturn in the residential housing market. That’s according to the USDA Economic Research Service’s Trends in U.S. Farmland Values and Ownership, released in February. The report calls changes in farmland values “a critical barometer of farm sector performance and the financial well-being of agriculture.” Land frequently is the largest single investment among a farm’s assets and a principal source of collateral when farmers seek business loans. Many farm operators also rely on landholdings as a retirement fund.

About 40 percent of the United States’ land base was occupied by farms in 2007, the most recent year for which that data is available. Most farmland is in the Midwest, but it exists in all 50 states. U.S. farmland values rose throughout much of the post-World War II period, ERS reported, and increased 92 percent between 1969 and 1981. After that they began to drop in response to rising interest rates and high energy prices. In 2005 and 2006, they increased 16 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Growth in values has slowed since then but continues to increase by 3 percent to 5 percent annually.

ERS found that the average per-acre value of farmland in Virginia was $4,600 in 2010. In the agency’s Appalachian Region, which includes Virginia, 28 percent of farmland was found to be owned by persons other than the farm operators. Nationwide, less than 2 percent of privately owned farmland and forestland was found to be foreign-owned; most of that is forestland in Maine, and the majority of foreign owners are individuals or businesses in Canada (34 percent) and the Netherlands (17 percent). Farm earnings in a given year and soil quality are two factors that can drive farmland values. Other factors are less farm-related; farmland near urban centers can generate returns with its residential and commercial development potential. Additional drivers include scenic views, desirable climates and other factors that attract people to rural areas. The full ERS report is available online at

Pizza chain denies HSUS request, trusts veterinarians instead by kathy dixon

Domino’s Pizza has bucked the trend of restaurants buying meat from suppliers who shun industry-accepted animal welfare practices. The company’s shareholders rejected a request from the Humane Society of the United States to stop using pork from suppliers who confine breeding pigs in gestation crates. "We rely on animal experts to determine what is the best way to raise an animal that's being used for food," said Domino’s spokesman Tim McIntyre. Gestation crates confine pregnant sows and protect them and their newborn piglets from other aggressive sows. Under pressure from HSUS, McDonald’s and Wendy’s have committed to ending pork purchases from suppliers who use the crates. “It’s a relief knowing that there are still companies out there who base their purchasing decisions on common sense 4

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and trust the experts to know what is in the best interest of animals bred for food,” said Lindsay Reames, assistant director of governmental relations for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “Animals raised for food in confined housing operations are clean, dry and protected from predators, and they have plenty of food and water. Why shouldn’t Domino’s or any other restaurant buy its food from farmers who take care of their animals using accepted scientific practices?” HSUS is a Domino’s shareholder; animal rights groups often buy stock in food companies to influence their suppliers’ production practices. McIntyre said the vote was 80 percent against HSUS’ resolution calling for Domino’s to prepare a report on the feasibility of ensuring that its pepperoni and ham come from producers who don’t use gestation crates. Four percent of the shareholders voted in favor of the resolution, and 16 percent abstained.

Those against the resolution voted in accordance with a recommendation from the Domino's board of directors. The company’s proxy statement noted that its pork suppliers use animals from farms that employ a variety of animal management systems. It also cited published statements from the American Veterinary Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians indicating there are advantages and disadvantages to both caged and cage-free pork production methods.

2005 court decision added urgency to property rights fight

Virginia voters will decide this fall whether to amend Virginia’s constitution to curb eminent domain abuse.

Virginians to vote on property rights amendment Nov. 6 This November, Virginians will have the opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment to protect private property rights, thanks in part to efforts of Farm Bureau members statewide. Question 1 on the Nov. 6 ballot will read, “Shall Section 11 of Article I (Bill of Rights) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended (i) to require that eminent domain only be exercised where the property taken or damaged is for public use and, except for utilities or the elimination of a public nuisance, not where the primary use is for private gain, private benefit, private increasing jobs, increasing tax revenue, or economic development; (ii) to define what is included in just compensation for such taking or damaging of property; and (iii) to prohibit the taking or damaging of more private property than is necessary for the public use?” Farm Bureau members have supported amending Virginia’s constitution to curb eminent domain abuses for the past several years. “We can’t begin to say how pleased we are that this bill has passed the (state) House and Senate for the second year in a row,” said Trey Davis, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation assistant director of governmental relations. “We are urging our members to vote for this amendment on

Nov. 6 and to encourage their friends and neighbors to join them in voting for it as well.” The Virginia constitution recognizes that some ‘takings’ are necessary for ‘public use.’ However, public use should be narrowly defined, and just compensation should be provided to an individual whose property is being taken, Davis said. The bill authorizing the ballot initiative for the amendment tightens the definition of public use and requires just compensation for owners whose property has been taken using eminent domain. It was sponsored in the General Assembly by Del. Robert Bell, R-Charlottesville, and Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg. “It hasn’t been easy getting to this point, and I appreciate the bipartisan support that this amendment has seen,” Davis said. “We are confident that Virginians will recognize this as a way to protect all citizens’ private property rights from unfair takings under the guise of eminent domain.” Additionally, Farm Bureau was instrumental in securing companion legislation that defines “lost profits” and “lost access” as factors in determining just compensation as part of the constitutional amendment.

It’s been seven years since a U.S. Supreme Court decision that made people realize their American dreams literally could be snatched right out from under them. In Kelo et al. v. City of New London, Conn., et al., the Supreme Court allowed the city of New London, Conn., to invoke eminent domain—the taking of private property for public use. In that June 23, 2005, decision, the court ruled that the governmental taking of property from a private owner to give to another is acceptable if the state’s laws allow economic development as permissible “public use” under the Fifth Amendment. Nine property owners were forced to move out of their homes so the city could sell their 15 lots, along with 100 others, to a commercial developer who promised to redevelop the area. The Kelo decision unleashed a wave of eminent domain takings. In the first year after Kelo, more than 5,700 properties nationwide were threatened by or taken with eminent domain for private development, according to the Institute for Justice, a civil liberties law firm that represented the Kelo homeowners. There were more than 10,000 such instances in the five years before the decision. Since the summer of 2005, more than 40 states have passed laws increasing protections against eminent domain takings, and some states have passed constitutional amendments protecting private property rights.

Cultivate JULY 2012


To find the station nearest you that airs Real Virginia, or to view the show online, visit photo by kathy dixon

Heart of the Home

SWEET AND SPICY SAUCE GIVES KICK TO BBQ RIBS Fresh raspberries add a nice sweet-tart taste to a traditional barbecue sauce; add a hint of spice, and you’ve got some snazzy summer ribs. “It’s a little bit different than what most people are used to,” said food writer Kendra Bailey Morris, “but the berries are really, really good with barbecued ribs.” She added that the sauce is also “excellent” with grilled chicken, pork chops or pork loin. For this recipe, Morris uses a dry rub then roasts the ribs in the oven before grilling and basting them.

Grilled Ribs with Raspberry Sorghum Sauce INGREDIENTS

2 medium racks of spareribs or baby back ribs, trimmed FOR THE DRY RUB:

1 tablespoon salt ½ tablespoon black pepper 1½ tablespoons onion powder 1½ tablespoons brown sugar 1 tablespoon chili powder ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon dry mustard FOR THE SAUCE:

1½ cups fresh raspberries 2 small cloves garlic, chopped 1 small onion, chopped ½ cup brown sugar ½ cup sorghum (or molasses) ½ cup ketchup 1 tablespoon cider vinegar 1 teaspoon powdered ginger ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes salt and pepper to taste DIRECTIONS

Mix all dry rub ingredients together, and rub ribs all over. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour, but preferably overnight.

Heat oven to 275°. Arrange ribs in a single layer in a large roasting pan. Cover tightly with foil, and roast for 2 to 2½ hours until meat is tender but not falling off the bone. Meanwhile, in a blender, puree the sauce ingredients—except salt and pepper, strain the sauce through a sieve—pressing it out well—and then pour into a saucepan and cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside. Preheat a grill to medium-high. Baste the ribs generously with the sauce, and grill them until nice and crispy, being careful not to burn them. Remove the ribs to a cutting board, and cut into quarters. Serve warm with any extra sauce on the side, and lots of napkins.

MIDDLE EASTERN SALAD MIXES WELL WITH VIRGINIA PRODUCE Fattoush is a traditional Lebanese salad made with fresh, seasonal vegetables— often greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and herbs—and crunchy pita pieces. The salad is served with a garlicky dressing containing sumac, a pungent, lemonytasting spice that can be purchased online or in Middle Eastern groceries. Lemon zest is an acceptable sumac substitute. “This is a good mix of in-season vegetables and herbs, and the lemony dressing adds a nice, tart zing,” said food writer Kendra Bailey Morris. “But the best part of this salad is the crispy pita pieces.” She noted that the salad is great alongside a bowl of fresh hummus and some stuffed grape leaves.

Heirloom Tomato Fattoush Salad with Toasted Pita Bread INGREDIENTS

2 whole pita breads, sliced open 1 tablespoon olive oil salt and pepper 2 small cloves garlic, smashed or pressed pinch of salt 8 cup fresh lemon juice 8 cup red wine vinegar 1 teaspoon ground sumac OR lemon zest ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil 2 medium heirloom tomatoes, chopped 1 large cucumber, chopped 1 green pepper, chopped 1 small onion, chopped 2 cups lettuce, chopped (Romaine, arugula or mixed greens) ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves ¼ cup fresh mint leaves DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375°. Brush pita slices with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Place pitas on a baking sheet and bake until crunchy. Break pitas into small pieces and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the crushed garlic with a pinch of salt. Add lemon juice, red wine vinegar and sumac or lemon zest, then slowly whisk in the olive oil (You also can place all the dressing ingredients in a lidded glass jar and shake vigorously). Season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, onion, lettuce and herbs. Add the broken pita pieces, and toss with part of the dressing to coat. Serve the salad immediately. Extra pita pieces and any additional dressing can be served on the side.

Kendra Bailey Morris appears each month on Real Virginia, Virginia Farm Bureau’s monthly television program, courtesy of Virginia Grown, a program of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Morris is an author and culinary instructor whose work appears in Better Homes and Gardens, Food Republic, Virginia Living, Chile Pepper and other publications and is a former food columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Her blog is at Cultivate JULY 2012


Good for You!

Melon mania: Honey, do try some flavorful melon this summer ‘If you have a good ear, you can check a watermelon’s ripeness by thumping it. If you hear a ringing sound when the melon is thumped, it’s not ripe. A dull thud indicates ripeness.’ >> Nancy Stegon registered dietitian and Virginia Cooperative Extension agent Melons can be ripened at room temperature—two days for honeydews, three days for cantaloupes and seven days for watermelons.

by kathy dixon Melons are in the same family as squash, and their nutritive value ranks right up there with their cousins. “Melons are chock-full of vitamin C and potassium, and as an added benefit, they are low-calorie and fat- and cholesterol-free,” said Nancy Stegon, a registered dietitian and family and consumer sciences agent for Virginia Cooperative Extension in Prince William County. “Summer is melon season, and it’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy these healthy fruits.” There are many varieties of melons, but the kind with deep orange flesh, such as cantaloupes, are good sources of beta carotene or vitamin A, Stegon explained. “Vitamin A is important, because it boosts immune function and vision and supports cell growth, which plays a critical role in the 8

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maintenance of the heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs.” A cup of cantaloupe provides half of an adult’s daily vitamin A requirement. “Instead of taking a daily supplement to get enough vitamin A, eat fruits and vegetables high in this nutrient throughout the year,” Stegon said. Melons won’t get sweeter after harvesting. So when selecting a melon, choose those that are symmetrical and free of cracks, bruises or soft spots; it should have just a slight softness to the touch. A sweet smell is not always the best indicator of melon quality, because those that have been chilled won’t have much smell, Stegon said. When shopping for cantaloupes and other melons with a netted rind, she said, look at the color below the netting. If it is golden, then the melon is ripe. To find a ripe watermelon, look for a spot where the melon rested on the soil. If the

spot is greenish or white, then the melon isn’t ripe, Stegon said. As watermelons ripen, the spot will turn a cream or yellowish color. “If you have a good ear, you can check a watermelon’s ripeness by thumping it,” she said. “If you hear a ringing sound when the melon is thumped, it’s not ripe. A dull thud indicates ripeness.” Melons can be ripened at room temperature for days: honeydew for two, cantaloupe for three and watermelon for seven. To enhance the flavor, some people like to sprinkle their melons with a slight dash of sea salt, Stegon said. Sea salt has the same sodium content of regular salt, but larger grains make a little bit go a long way. A squeeze of lime juice also boosts melon flavor. Stegon said she enjoys making fruit kabobs and pureeing melons into chilled soup. “Melon season only lasts a couple of months, so enjoy it while you can.”

Good for You!

Melon varieties: Try the traditional, or the exotic While cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon are the most well-known melon varieties, there are others out there. Look for them at your local grocery store or farmers’ market. Cantaloupe Also called a muskmelon, this familiar fruit with orange flesh and khaki-colored skin provides the most beta-carotene in the entire melon family. Select melons that are slightly golden.


Unlike the other melons, casabas do not have an aroma. The large melons are pale yellow when ripe and have white flesh with a sweet taste. They peak in the fall but start showing up in markets in July.

Crenshaw These melons can weigh up to 10 pounds and deliver a unique sweet and spicy flavor. They are a hybrid cross of casaba and Persian melons, with a yellowish skin and salmoncolored flesh.


The sweetest of all the melons and averaging 5 to 6 pounds, honeydews have a creamy yellow rind when ripe and pale green flesh.

Persian This melon is similar to the cantaloupe but slightly larger; it has a greener rind and a finer outer netting. Persian melons peak in August and September.

Santa Claus This melon is also known as the Christmas melon because it peaks during December. With its green and gold stripes, it’s similar to the watermelon but is about a foot long and not as sweet as other melons.

Melon Salsa ingredients

2 cups seeded and chopped fresh melon (honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon or combination) 1 cup peeled, seeded, chopped cucumber ¼ cup chopped onion 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or mint ½ to 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped ¼ cup lime juice 1 tablespoon sugar directions

In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes. Serve with grilled or broiled fish or chicken or with tortilla chips. Source: Montana State University Extension Service

Cantaloupe-Mango Soup ingredients

Sharlyn This melon tastes like cantaloupe and honeydew

3 cups cubed cantaloupe (about 1 small)

combined. Sharlyn melons are sweet with a netted outer layer, greenish-orange rind and white flesh.

1¼ cups chopped mango (1 small) 1½ cups orange juice 3

cup low-fat vanilla yogurt

2½ teaspoons honey ¼ teaspoon ground ginger 8

teaspoon ground nutmeg


In blender, combine all ingredients and puree. Pour into a large serving bowl or tureen, and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. Source: American Institute for Cancer Research

Cultivate JULY 2012


Want to know more about farming? Join the national conversation! by kathy dixon


eople are talking about antibiotics, hormones, genetically modified foods, gestation crates and water quality. But where can one get accurate information on these topics? The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance is making it possible for Americans to find answers to their questions about farming—straight from the people who produce their food and fiber. All you need is an Internet connection and an inquisitive mind. USFRA was formed in early 2011 by farmers and agricultural groups to foster a national dialogue between families and producers. Virginia Farm Bureau Federation is a USFRA affiliate, as are numerous other state Farm Bureaus and the American Farm Bureau Federation. A recent Web chat about antibiotic use in livestock on USFRA’s website at featured insights from a veterinarian and a registered dietitian. It was one of many online conversations


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USFRA is hosting about the country’s current food supply and the farmers who produce it. “This is more than a campaign; this is about changing the way food and food production are discussed in all social circles,” said Forrest Roberts, chairman of the USFRA Communications Advisory Committee and CEO of the National Cattleman’s Beef Association. USFRA surveys found that Americans think about food production a lot, yet 72 percent say they know nothing or very little about farming or ranching. Many think the United States is on the wrong track in the way the country produces food. That’s evident in some of the conversations taking place on the USFRA’s Facebook page To participate, all you have to do is “like” the page, which has amassed more than 19,000 “Likes” to date. Additionally, visitors can submit questions on, and farmers will answer them. The site also features video tours of beef, dairy, pork and turkey farms.

The farmers said… A U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance survey of producers in August 2011 asked participants what one thing they’d like to tell Americans about their work and U.S. food. Here’s what some of them said. • “I would tell them that their food comes from people like them—people who have the same values as they do and who want to eat the same nutritious food as they do. We are not nameless, faceless people.” • “I would tell them that their food comes from the same place my food comes from. It’s the same food I feed my children and grandchildren.” • “It’s a lot more technical, I think, than people realize.” • “I would tell them that there is diversity and a wider set of practices than most people think. People have a set stereotype of the industry as a whole. People don’t think that there are family farms anymore.” • “I would tell them that modern farming and ranching is just like other technology. Things change every day. Everything is geared to provide better quality.”

Can’t visit a farm in person? Take virtual tours of six Virginia farms in October Not everyone can personally visit a farm, but just about anyone can take a virtual tour. The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation will host The Real Virginia Virtual Farm Tour— recorded tours of six different Virginia farms—during a special Web event in October. “The average Virginian is pretty far-removed from agriculture. And we believe that getting accurate information about farming operations will help them understand and appreciate the importance of this industry in their daily lives. It will also help them to better process sometimes conflicting messages about certain aspects of farming,” explained Greg Hicks, VFBF vice president of communications. “We realize that not everyone has access to a farm or has time to personally visit one. That’s why we’ve sent our staff out to a variety of Virginia farms to report the farmers’ stories to the public.” Participants will be able to watch the live feed at and will be able to submit questions to A panel of farmers and agricultural experts will be on hand to provide answers. Tour sites will include a Rockbridge County beef cattle business, a Hanover County dairy and an Eastern Shore vegetable farm, with additional locations to be announced later. Virginia Farm Bureau is a member of the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, which was formed in 2011 to foster conversations between consumers and farmers across the country. This event is one way VFBF is trying to engage Virginians in the national dialogue.

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Feeding a large-scale population requires large-scale farms ∂m∂ While consumers frequently buy local foods directly from smaller-scale farms, there’s quite a bit more to Virginia agriculture that they don’t see up close. Cultivate visits two larger-scale family farms—and the families themselves.

This Accomack County potato field was lush and green in mid-May.


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by sara owens

‘The labor force in agriculture has been shrinking for 80 years, and it’s very, very hard to hire workers for agricultural production. Because the labor force has shrunk so much, labor-saving technology has been developed that is geared to the scarcest resource: the farmer.’ ∂ Dr. Jim Pease professor of agricultural and applied economics, Virginia Tech


here are about 313 million people living in the United States and more than 7 billion people globally. With more people in countries where population pressures and food scarcity are critical issues, large-scale farms in the United States are needed to feed the growing population, especially as the numbers increase in the next 40 years. Large-scale family farms—those with annual sales of $250,000 or more—make up only 10 percent of U.S. farms, yet these farms produce the largest share of agricultural output, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2007, Beef cattle graze in Rockbridge County. large-scale family farms—plus the 2 percent of nonfamily farms in the United States—made up 84 percent of the value of U.S. agriculture production. “We simply cannot supply enough food to meet the demand of our country and the world on small-scale operations due to the input costs it takes to raise the food, and the labor needed,” said Dr. Jim Pease, a professor of agricultural and applied economics at Virginia Tech. “The labor force in agriculture has been shrinking for 80 years, and it’s very, very hard to hire workers for agricultural production,” Pease said. “Because the labor force has shrunk so much, labor-saving technology has been developed that is geared to the scarcest resource: the farmer. “These labor-saving technologies and other modern agricultural innovations require a lot of capital, and only larger farms can afford to spread the cost of that technology over a large number of acres.” Modern equipment utilizes computer and other electronic technology to perform tasks as efficiently and cheaply as possible while addressing environmental concerns, said Tony Banks, a commodity marketing expert for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “GPS systems guide equipment across a field and can also adjust fertilizer and pesticide application rates on the go, assuring that only the necessary amount of fertilizer or pesticides is used. “Genetically modified plants allow farmers to use fewer pesticides to control bugs and weeds, introducing fewer pesticides into the environment and potentially saving farmers money.” Banks said the next round of technology advances will enhance fertilizer and water uptake efficiency in crops, which will improve their drought tolerance. Without using modern and conventional agricultural practices, which include chemical inputs, Banks said, farmers wouldn’t be able to grow enough food to meet today’s demand. “Organic farming methods such as relying extensively on compost and green manures require access to suitable quantities of compost and devote acreage to nutrient enriching cover crops instead of food production. These may work for someone with small acreage; but for someone with hundreds or thousands of acres, it can be very difficult and more costly to accomplish on a larger scale. “The input costs of farming would increase, and the cost of food would rise tremendously, and when there are already many people struggling to eat, that’s not ideal. Consumers in the United States are fortunate to have many food choices, because we have farms of all sizes and production types; that is what’s important.”

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‘We don’t want to apply too much of anything’ Stewardship remains important to Eastern Shore family article and photography by sara owens


rothers David and Phil Hickman of Accomack County have been operating Dublin Farms Inc. since they graduated from college in 1974. Farming has always been a family affair for the Hickmans. Their great-grandfather began farming in 1875 and later purchased his property in 1889. Their grandfather, father and great-uncle also farmed that land, and now David Hickman’s sons, Matthew and Mark, and Phil Hickman’s son, Phillip, farm full time alongside their fathers. “We’ve always grown potatoes on at least some portion of the original farm,” Hickman said. “Our great grandfather also grew corn to feed to the mules that worked the land, as well as tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers and other crops.” Today Dublin Farms produces Irish potatoes and green beans, as well as wheat, corn and soybeans. The potatoes and some of the green beans are sold to grocery chains on the East Coast, and beans also are sold to a processing plant in Pennsylvania. The wheat, corn and soybeans are used to make feed for poultry operations on the Eastern Shore. “Once you have a tie to the land, it is hard to get away from it,” David Hickman said. “Farming does have its challenges, but no more so than any other small business. Agriculture has always been a boom-orbust business, but you learn to live through those cycles when you’ve been in the business so long.”

Protecting resources ‘long before the government got involved’ Dublin Farms is U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified for Good Handling Practices of fresh produce, and the Hickmans use several techniques to help protect the land. “Farmers have done more to help the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways 14

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than any other group,” David Hickman said. “We’ve been doing conservation practices long before the government got involved, because we want to protect and improve our soil. Farmers, like everyone else, want clean water.” They plant cover crops and buffer strips around creeks and ditches and also have a nutrient management plan. The plan is reviewed yearly by a consulting Potatoes have always been grown on some part of Dublin group and contains specific Farms Inc. in Accomack County. guidelines for fertilizers and minerals for each crop in every field. GM seed just made sense; ‘I don’t “A soil test is taken every year, and the see a downside’ plan is based on the results of that test, as well as the soil’s condition, crop removal, The Hickmans plant genetically modified, residual fertilizer in the soil and what we or GM, seed, which helps them control cropplan to plant that year,” Hickman said. damaging insects without using additional “It’s an efficient way to operate our farm. pesticides. GM corn seed helps prevent We don’t want any nutrients or pesticides worms that can damage a corn crop, causing to run off, and we don’t want to apply too the plants to fall over and reducing yield. much of anything because it costs money.” “I don’t see a downside to using GM The crops are rotated from one field to seeds,” David Hickman said. “The yields are another every year to help prevent diseases better, and they help reduce the amount of and control weeds, which compete with pesticides we use on plants, which is better crops for sunlight and soil moisture and for the environment.” nutrients. Hickman said his family started planting The Hickmans’ cover crops, such as GM soybeans and corn as soon as they were wheat and hairy vetch, grow during the developed in the mid-’90s. winter months. The vetch produces “We saw a boost in soybean yield by 80 pounds of nitrogen per acre and falls over, 30 percent in the first year, because before providing a natural mulch while increasing GM seeds the herbicides used to kill weeds moisture and helping to prevent runoff. damaged the crop. Genetically altered To help minimize the amount of corn and soybeans are now resistant seed, fertilizer and pesticides used, the to glyphosate-type herbicides, such as Hickmans use a GPS system on their Roundup, that kill the weeds in the field tractors. The system steers the tractor, without damaging the crop.” ensuring straight rows and accurate All of the products used on today’s farms spacing. have been tested and are heavily regulated by “With the GPS system, if I go back the USDA. over a row that has already been sprayed, Farming is not a hit-or-miss business in the system shuts the sprayer off and it the United States, Hickman said. “Farmers won’t allow any overlap,” said Matthew follow good handling practices and good Hickman. “It helps prevent over-spraying conservation practices, and they grow some and is good for the environment.” of the best and safest food in the world.”

David Hickman Dublin Farms Inc. Accomack County

“We’ve been doing conservation practices long before the government got involved,” said David Hickman, whose family has farmed on Virginia’s Eastern Shore since 1875.

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Margaret Ann Smith Smith Farms Rockingham County

“They’re not pets; they are a commodity,” Margaret Ann Smith said of the beef cattle her family raises in Rockbridge County. “But we meet their every need and provide a quality life for them; they want for nothing.”


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‘We’ve been handed an asset’ Three generations of cattle producers value their animals, land article and photography by kathy dixon


argaret Ann Smith chuckles when she hears the term “sustainable.” She is amused because there is no concrete definition of the word when it’s used by critics of modern agriculture. Smith is a sixth-generation cattle farmer in Rockbridge County. Her family’s farm encompasses three generations, including her 87-year-old grandfather, 84-year-old grandmother, her parents and her younger brother. Each family member is involved in different aspects of the operation. “To support that many people and to grow the operation and pass it on to the next generation—if that’s not sustainable, I don’t know what is,” Smith said.

Her dad, Mack Smith, chimed in with just as much enthusiasm. “Each generation adapted their farming practices and commodities to enable the farm to prosper and grow,’ he said. “And I think that’s pretty sustainable.” Some days all three generations are out working in the fields together. Smith Farms is family owned and operated, just like 98 percent of the farms in Virginia. “Management, day-to-day operations, everything is handled by family members,” Margaret Ann Smith explained. “We do hire outside help on a contract basis to assist with things, but everything else is done through a family member.” The diversified operation includes beef cattle, hay production and grain crops. The cattle side of the operation consists of raising and breeding commercial beef cattle; selling their yearlings; and buying and selling tractor-trailer loads of feeder cattle purchased at auction.

Cattle ‘want for nothing’ while on farm

Smith Farms cattle graze in pastures and later receive supplemental feed before being sold.

The commercial beef cattle graze on pasture and are given supplemental grains. When they are sick, they are treated with antibiotics. Breeding cattle are vaccinated twice a year based on veterinarian recommendations. The cattle Smith buys at auction are given preventative antibiotics because she doesn’t know their background. It’s similar to getting a child immunized before he or she starts elementary school, she said. “You don’t want your child to get sick, and we don’t want the cattle that we buy to get sick. We monitor the cattle to make sure they are healthy before we sell them out West,” she explained.

Some antibiotics cost more than $1,500 for one bottle. “It’s like gold; you use it sparingly,” Smith said, noting that she closely follows label directions and gets advice from her vet on administering treatments. The cattle graze on pasture for a couple of months and then are given supplemental feed before they are sold. Once the animals are shipped to a Midwestern feedlot, they are fed grains until it’s time for them to be processed. While in the Smith’s care, they leisurely graze on green grass, receive supplemental grains and minerals to balance their diets, and have unlimited water and plenty of natural shelter from bad weather. “They’re not pets; they are a commodity. But we meet their every need and provide a quality life for them; they want for nothing,” Smith said.

Product is ‘the same thing we feed our families’ Critics of conventional livestock production sometimes think farmers don’t care about the animals they raise for food. That’s not true, Smith is quick to point out. “The products we provide to consumers are the same things we feed to our families, so of course it’s going to be safe.” And in addition to caring for their animals, the Smiths care for the land. They follow a nutrient management plan, which spells out when and where manure can be spread and how to protect water sources. “We have found that the ability to utilize good conservation practices is an asset to us,” Mack Smith said. “It’s probably the most important thing that I’m trying to pass on to the kids. … We’ve been handed an asset, and it’s important that we maintain it and hand it on down to the next generation.” It’s simple, he said. “This is my family’s heritage, and it’s also our future.”

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article and photography by sara owens

Award recipient has ‘heart of a farmer David Spence truly has the “heart of a farmer and the will of a salesman.” That’s how he was described by Clay Francis, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation vice president of membership and field services, who presented the Smyth County Farm Bureau insurance agent and farmer with Farm Bureau’s 2012 Ralph Stokes Award.

The award, presented by the sales management team of the Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co., is the top recognition given annually to an agent who has a high degree of integrity, offers Farm Bureau members excellent service and has earned the respect of his or her peers. “David Spence is Farm Bureau. He believes in what he does for the

members of our organization, and it shows in his work ethic every day,” said Brian Turman, a Farm Bureau agency manager. “David cares for his clients, fellow agents and our members. David truly exemplifies what the Ralph Stokes award winner stands for, and that is excellence in all areas of customer service and sales.”

David Spence, an insurance agent at Smyth County Farm Bureau, was honored earlier this spring by Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co.

“ People trust us to take care of them, and we take pride in our jobs and want to take care of their claim as quickly and as efficiently as possible.” — David Spence, Virginia Farm Bureau insurance agent

and the will of a salesman’

Spence also farms with his brother Jeff. “I don’t play golf; stress relief for me is getting on my tractor after a day at the office and working in the fields,” he said.

Farm Bureau established the Ralph Stokes Award in 1986, the same year Stokes retired after selling Farm Bureau insurance for 32 years. Spence, who has won every award that VFBMIC and Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co. present, began working for Farm Bureau in 1990 as an insurance agent for Tazewell County Farm Bureau. In 2006 he became an agent in Smyth County, where he was born and raised. “I truly enjoy my job,” he said. “I get to help people in my own community at times when they need help the most, after a loss or an accident. “I enjoy promoting Farm Bureau and appreciate Farm Bureau’s long-standing respect for agriculture and its members,” he said. “They look at members as people. When a customer has a claim, the first thing we ask them is ‘How are you doing? Are you OK?’ The customer is always the first thing that comes to mind, and that’s important to me.”

On April 28, 2011, several tornadoes caused damage in Smyth County that resulted in $2 million in claims for Spence’s customers alone. Without benefit of electricity, Spence left home at 5 a.m. the following day to begin taking claims on paper so adjusters could start assessing them the next day. “People trust us to take care of them, and we take pride in our jobs and want to take care of their claim as quickly and as efficiently as possible,” Spence said. Likewise, his 200 head of beef cattle trust him to care of them as well. “They’re my babies,” Spence said. “I love taking care of them. I don’t play golf; stress relief for me is getting in my tractor after a day at the office and working in the fields.” Spence operates Spence Brothers Farm with his brother Jeff. In addition to raising beef cattle, they also grow hay and corn, and David Spence owns several horses.

“Our dad raised beef cattle, so we have beef cattle,” he said. “And unlike dairy cows, beef cattle give you a break. You don’t have to be there 24-7. … We also grew burley tobacco before the tobacco buyout.” Spence and his wife, Debbie, have two adult daughters, Jessie and Becky, who both worked on the farm, cutting hay and tobacco and feeding cattle. They continue to farm on a smaller scale with their husbands, and Becky works as a member service specialist for Bland County Farm Bureau. While Spence hopes to continue selling insurance for a long time, he said he wants to retire to farming. “We’re trying to build up our operation so that when we both retire, Jeff and I can farm full time.”

Cultivate JULY 2012


In the Garden

When the heat breaks, break out the lawn maintenance plan Spring may be the best time for cleaning, but fall is the best time to fertilize your lawn and prepare it for grass seed. Most grasses in Virginia are cool-season grasses, said horticulturalist Mark Viette. “You don’t have to have a perfect lawn,” Viette said. “A few weeds and clover are just fine, but a well-rooted lawn helps prevent erosion and run-off of sediment into streams and waterways.” Before fertilizing, perform a soil test so that you do not needlessly waste nutrients. It’s also important to determine the size of your lawn. Use a tape measure to measure your lawn in one direction and then in another and multiply the measurements to determine the square footage. That will help determine the appropriate amount of products to apply. Apply fertilizer and lime in September or October, and use a slow-release fertilizer, Viette said. “It should say on the bag that it releases for 60 days or two months. Fertilizers such as 10-10-10 release too quickly,” he said. Using lime or gypsum can help raise the pH of your soil. “If you have trouble spots in your lawn or it isn’t well-rooted, you may want to consider using a mineralizer every couple of years,” Viette said. “Mineralizers have 50 to 100 different minerals and nutrient complexes that can help some lawns.” Distribute your fertilizer using a spreader, applying it in two different directions. Viette said he prefers a broadcast spreader, which throws fertilizer out in a pattern. A newer kind of spreader on the market uses fertilizer in a bag that locks onto the equipment. “Sometimes it is hard to determine how much fertilizer you need, and with this system, there are no calculations to do,” Viette said. “You just lock it in, walk across the lawn and you’re done.” If your lawn isn’t filling in properly, consider aerating. Core aerating opens up the lawn and airs it out. You can then apply grass seed.

To patch missing or brown spots, overseed little sections by loosening the surface with a rake and then tossing grass seed over the spot. Viette recommends putting weedfree straw on top of seed to keep it from drying out. There also are products on the market that help make spot repair easier. “Just sprinkle the grass seed product on the dead spots,”

Viette said. “Some have materials that negate urine from dogs or other animals, and some have seed mixed in with organic matter that absorbs up to eight times its size and weight.” It can take four to six weeks for seeds to germinate. Viette suggests mowing grass to 3 or 4 inches tall to help prevent weed problems.

Measuring your lawn before applying fertilizer, seed and other products will help you be sure of the appropriate amount to apply.


Cultivate JULY 2012

In the Garden

No blooms again?

To find the station nearest you that airs Real Virginia, or to view the show online, visit


photos by sara owens

If the wisteria in your yard is growing just fine but went through another spring without blooming, it might be time to re-direct its energy. “The wisteria may have a lot of bright green growths but no blooms,” horticulturist Mark Viette said. The plant could be getting too much shade and not enough afternoon sun, he noted, or it might be getting too much nitrogen and not enough phosphorus. Or it could be time to get out the clippers. For blooms next spring, “you need to shock it back into growth,” Viette said. “Pruning your wisteria will help direct the plant’s energy into producing flowers.” Thin out older growth at the center of the vine. When looking at an established wisteria, you’ll see mature dark-green growth that is probably two to five years old and spindly, light-green growth that’s more recent. The newer growth should be pruned back in one of two ways. For the best flowering, cut the growth by half in mid-August or September, again in two weeks and again in another two weeks, so that only one or two buds are present on the vines. “This helps force the buds to flower, because you are forcing the energy to the buds and are helping them break into flowering. It’s the most fool-proof way to get your wisteria to flower,” Viette said. A second way is to cut the growth back to one or two buds only once—in late winter or early spring, while the wisteria is still dormant. At the same time, thin out growth from the main trunk so more light can get in. “Take out one of every five main stems, but don’t take out more than 20 percent of the total bush,” Viette said. It may take more than one year to get the wisteria to bloom again, he noted, but once it does, it should bloom annually.

This wisteria was all vines and no blooms this spring. Pruning new growth back to one or two buds on each vine can help stimulate flower production next spring.

Mark Viette appears on Real Virginia, Virginia Farm Bureau’s monthly television program. Viette and his father operate the Andre Viette Farm and Nursery in Augusta County and have a live radio show broadcast by more than 60 mid-Atlantic stations each Saturday morning. They also are members of the Augusta County Farm Bureau. Andre Viette currently serves on the organization’s board of directors and on the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Ornamental Horticulture Advisory Committee, and Mark Viette is a former Augusta Farm Bureau board member.

Cultivate JULY 2012


From the Ground Up


The backyard gardener’s basics of weeding and watering Out-of-control weeds or a lack of water can really defeat home gardens, said Andy Hankins, a Virginia Cooperative Extension alternative crops specialist. If it’s been particularly rainy, weeds can grow extra fast, Hankins said, but there are several options for controlling them. And an irrigation system can keep your produce from getting parched.

WEED CONTROL Woven plastic For the home gardener who doesn’t have a lot of time, creating a weed barrier can be the best way to control weeds, Hankins said. Cover the garden area with woven plastic before you plant, and then use a propane torch to carefully burn holes in the plastic for planting. “A propane torch makes a perfect hole, and the heat seals the edges so they won’t unravel as easily as they would with scissors,” Hankins said. The plastic’s weave allows water to reach the soil beneath it. “It’s great for keeping the soil moist and preventing weeds from growing, because without sunlight, the weeds can’t grow.” Hankins noted that there might be some weeds that grow up through the holes and will need to be removed by hand. “Put down the plastic in the spring so that plants can grow through the summer, then in the fall, pick it up, fold it and save it until the following spring,” he said.

Garden hoe Another inexpensive way to control weeds is by using a hoe, which is more affordable than a garden tiller. To remove weeds, use the hoe blade to pull soil toward the plant, and then hand pick any weeds that are close to the plant. “By doing this motion, you are cultivating the soil and destroying the weeds,” Hankins said.

Garden Tiller Garden tillers vary in size and cost. Smaller tillers fit easily between rows and are useful in small spaces. “A microtiller is perfect for a backyard garden that is walled in or a raised-bed garden,” Hankins said. “They are lightweight, so you can pick up the tiller and take it with you.” Rotary garden tillers are ideal for large areas or a larger market-size garden. “The rotary tiller saves you a lot of work in a large space while helping control weeds,” Hankins said. “It’s best to use it in the spring to prepare beds and in the fall to prepare beds for winter cover crops.”

IRRIGATION SYSTEMS “A drip or trickle irrigation system is a low-cost way to provide water to your home vegetable garden when there isn’t abundant rainfall,” Hankins said. The water slowly trickles out of drip emitters on the tape, using less water and helping to prevent diseases caused by over watering. Irrigation system kits are available online and from home and garden center retailers. The kits include irrigation tape, a supply line or header pipe, a filter and pressure regulator, hole punch, on/off valves and other pieces, as well as instructions for use. Hankins recommends turning on the irrigation system for a couple of hours in the morning and to avoid watering at night due to the risk of plant diseases. “The garden doesn’t need a lot of water,” he said. “A lot of people over-water their gardens, and they need to remember sparing use is better than too much.”

The size of your garden and the extent of your weeds are factors in deciding whether you need an old-fashioned hoe, a woven plastic weed barrier or a microtiller. 22

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From the Ground Up







Run the irrigation tape down one row. Make sure the line is flat to the ground and that the emitters are on top. When you get to the end of the row, use a knife or scissors to cut the irrigation tape from the roll.

2 Use the hole punch to put a hole in the supply line.

3 Put an on/off valve in the hole, and then connect the end of the irrigation tape to the exposed end of the valve. Make sure the valve is off. The on/off valve allows you to control the water for each individual row.

4 Connect the supply line to the filter and pressure regulator. The pressure regulator relieves the pressure coming from the faucet, and the filter removes silt and other particles from the water that could clog the emitters.

5 Connect a garden hose that is attached to a water source to the exposed end of the filter and pressure regulator.

6 To close the open ends of the irrigation tape, use a stopper or end closure, or cut a small piece of tape off the end, then fold the rest of the tape a couple of times to close the end. Place the small tape you cut off over the folded part to make it secure.

To find the station nearest you that airs Real Virginia, or to view the show online, visit

Andy Hankins appears on Real Virginia, Virginia Farm Bureau’s monthly television program. He is a longtime professor and Virginia Cooperative Extension alternative crops specialist at Virginia State University and a member of the Virginia Association for Biological Farming. Cultivate JULY 2012


Medical alert benefit can give peace of mind Help is always within reach for Virginia Farm Bureau members who use the Member’s Medical Alert benefit. Powered by national provider LifeStation, the service makes it easy for members or their loved ones to summon assistance to their homes in an emergency. The equipment is easy to install; simply plug it into an existing phone line. LifeStation maintains a state-of-the-art, 24-hour call center with care specialists users can reach via a tabletop console or a help button that can be mounted on a wall, worn around the

neck or wrist or clipped to a belt. The care specialists will contact local emergency services professionals and designated family members or friends. All Member’s Medical Alert equipment will be shipped at no charge. Farm Bureau members pay a special monthly rate of $25.95 and are eligible for a 30-day money-back trial. The service involves no long-term contract, and members may cancel at any time. Your county Farm Bureau can provide you with contact information for getting details on the Member’s Medical Alert.

Members can enjoy savings on prescription drugs Virginia Farm Bureau’s free Prescription Drug Discount and Savings Program affords members an average savings of 25 percent on more than 12,000 name-brand and generic prescription drugs at more than 53, 000 pharmacies. Members pay no fee to use the program, which is designed for individuals with no insurance coverage for prescription drugs. The Prescription Drug Discount and Savings Program is not insurance. Rather, it works via what’s known as a “consumer card” or “point of sale card” that can be used by your entire household.

There are no medical exams, no waiting periods, no claim forms to file and no exclusions for pre-existing conditions. Simply present your card at a participating pharmacy when you have your prescription filled, or use it when ordering medicines through the mail-order program of Agelity Inc. Your county Farm Bureau can provide starter card information and information on how to locate participating pharmacies near you and compare potential savings on generic and brand-name drugs.

Confused by Health Reform? We can help! • Individual plans • Employer group plans • HSAs and HRAs • Medicare supplement • Dental and vision

FARM BUREAU offers NEW health care reform-compliant plans with increased benefits for Virginia Farm Bureau members. Our trained staff will help you customize a health care plan to fit your needs and budget. We work with individuals, families and all types of businesses throughout the state of Virginia.

Get the Membership Advantage.


For information on how the changes in health insurance can save you money, call us at 800-229-7779. Virginia Farm Bureau Service Corporation is an independent authorized agent in Virginia for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Anthem Health Plans of Virginia, Inc. trades as Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Virginia, and its service area is all of Virginia except for the City of Fairfax, the Town of Vienna, and the area east of State Route 123. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and its affiliated HMO HealthKeepers, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.®ANTHEM is a registered trademark. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For exclusions, limitations, terms under which the policy may be continued in force or discontinued, costs and complete details of the coverage, call or write your insurance agent or the company, whichever is applicable.


Cultivate JULY 2012

by leah gustafson

Prevent back and knee pain while gardening While there are many healing properties associated with gardening, it’s possible to hurt yourself while performing routine maintenance tasks. Being mindful of your motions can reduce your risk of injuries.

Who’s got your back?

Easy on the knees, please

Lower back pain can make gardening a difficult task. Studies show that individuals who continue their normal activities as much as possible after an initial 24-hour rest period experience less pain, have more flexibility and are better able to do work than those who stay in bed. While each case is different and everyone should consult with a doctor, many individuals will be able to continue gardening activities with some minor adjustments. Exercise can improve mood and reduce pain by releasing endorphins, the “feel good” hormones, to the brain. Exercising also can help to maintain flexibility and fitness levels and can strengthen the muscles that support the back and reduce the likelihood of back pain. To avoid aggravating back pain, it is important to know how to move, sit, stand, and work in ways that will reduce strain. Walk with a slight arch in the lower back, slightly tensing the abdominal muscles, and don’t slouch. Sit with feet supported and knees level with or higher than your hips. Use correct postures when doing garden chores such as raking, shoveling and hoeing. Be careful when pushing or pulling heavy objects; use arm or thigh muscles and not the back. Never use jerky, twisting or rough movements. Move slowly and deliberately, and let gardening equipment and tools do the job for you. For example, use largewheeled garden carts that support their own weight to transport items around the garden. Whenever possible, find someone to assist you with lifting, pushing or pulling. Long-handled tools can make work easier by extending your reach and reducing the body movement necessary to complete a task. Lightweight and small-bladed tools can reduce the amount of load and resistance. Stand as close to the work area as possible.

The best way to protect knees from stress and strain is to condition them with strengthening exercises and stretching. Practice strengthening exercises regularly, and stretch before starting gardening activities. Your doctor can recommend appropriate exercises and stretches. Squatting can put unnecessary strain on the knees if done incorrectly or for long periods of time. Keep your feet flat and your weight evenly distributed. Squatting with heels off the ground can damage knee ligaments. Preferred work positions include having one knee on the ground, working on hands and knees using a kneeling pad or sitting on a chair or stool. If you use a chair

Leah Gustafson is a marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Health Care Consultants.

or stool, place it close to the area where you are working, and use long handled tools to avoid straining the upper body. If a kneeling pad is inconvenient to carry, try using knee pads. Raised beds can make gardening easier, reducing the need to stoop or bend down to get close to the soil. The height of the beds can be adjusted to suit the individual gardener’s needs. Raised beds with wide borders afford a convenient place to sit while working. The bed widths should be narrow enough to allow you to work without straining or reaching. Some find it easier to use beds high enough to stand at, while others might want a bed they can slip their knees under while sitting.

Long-handled tools extend your reach and can reduce the body movements needed for basic gardening tasks like weeding. Stand as close to your work area as possible. Cultivate JULY 2012


Ambassador program open to anyone who loves agriculture You don’t have to come from a farming family to be the next Virginia Farm Bureau Ambassador. Anyone from a Virginia Farm Bureau member-family with a passion for agriculture may apply. “We wanted the competition to be open to all members, because there are many young people who have a strong passion for agriculture, they just don’t live on a farm,” said Janice Burton, chairman of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Women’s Committee. The annual competition is open to anyone 18 to 25 years old who wants to be a spokesperson for agriculture and represent Farm Bureau. To enter, applicants must be: Farm Bureau members who are at least 18 years old and have not reached their 26th birthdays by Dec. 31. They also must be nominated by Oct. 15 and complete an application signed by their county Farm Bureau women’s committee chairman. Applications are due Dec. 31. The state-level winner will be announced at the 2013 VFBF Women’s Conference in March. He or she will receive a $3,000 scholarship from the Women’s Committee, and the runner-up will receive $500. The winner will make public appearances across the state as a representative of agriculture and Farm Bureau.

This year’s winner, Taylor Fix of Augusta County, didn’t grow up on a farm, but developed a passion for agriculture by participating in FFA and other agriculture-related clubs. She recently earned an associate’s degree at Blue Ridge Community College and will attend Virginia Tech in the fall to pursue degrees in animal science and agricultural and applied economics. She hopes to eventually earn a master’s degree in cattle genetics. “Entering the Farm Bureau Taylor Fix Ambassador contest really made me more aware of key issues facing the agriculture industry and helped prepare me to develop that message and be a better speaker,” Fix said. “The contest is a great opportunity for anyone with a passion for agriculture to speak out and express that passion and to give back to the agricultural community.” For more information about the Virginia Farm Bureau Ambassador program, visit

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Cultivate JULY 2012

Community outreach, education earn accolades for county Farm Bureau women’s committees Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Women’s Program participants were recognized for community outreach programs and for educating the public about agriculture during the annual VFBF Women’s Conference in March. Winners of the district and state Outstanding Women’s Activity Awards were announced at the event, along with the winner of the Chairman’s Award for the most-improved committee. The awards recognize excellence among activities that promote agriculture, educate communities on the importance of the industry and recruit new committee members.

Capital District The Powhatan County Women’s Committee created a soybean costume, which a committee member wore to visit elementary school classes and explain the importance of that crop in Virginia.

Central District The Orange County Women’s Committee provided a summer enrichment class about agriculture for 120 third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at the Boys and Girls Club of Orange County.

Eastern District The King and Queen County Women’s Committee conducted a dairy farm tour for kindergarteners; it included milking a cow and feeding a calf.

Midwest District The Franklin County Women’s Committee partnered with a middle school art class to make a coloring book called What’s Growing in Franklin County.

Northern District The Prince William-Fairfax County Women’s Committee conducted a yearlong agriculture literacy campaign with 15 other community organizations.

Southeast District The Greensville County Women’s Committee created a district-wide cookbook to promote the use of Virginia foods.

Southwest District — state winner The Smyth County Women’s Committee sponsored an Eating Smart Festival at the Marion Regional Farmers’ Market. They created 11 booths related to food groups, portion sizes, nutrition, Virginia foods and Virginia Farm Bureau membership. More than 400 people attended the event.

Valley District The Augusta County Women’s Committee partnered with the Augusta County Rescue Squad and Virginia Farm Bureau safety staff to hold a safety day at the county fair.

Chairman’s Award The Wise-Dickenson County Women’s Committee educated the general public about buying American food and collected food to donate to the Ronald McDonald House in Johnson City, Tenn.

Southside District The Brunswick County Women’s Committee created a 2011-2012 school calendar for teachers; it included daily agriculture facts that reinforce Virginia’s Standards of Learning.

Goodlatte receives American Farm Bureau’s Golden Plow award The American Farm Bureau Federation has honored Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-6th.) with its Golden Plow award, the highest recognition the organization bestows on members of Congress. Goodlatte is the first Rep. Bob Goodlatte Virginian in Congress to receive the award, which recognizes members of Congress for distinguished agricultural leadership and support of Farm Bureau policies. AFBF President Bob Stallman and Virginia Farm Bureau Federation President Wayne F. Pryor presented the award during an April 13 Farm Bill Conservation Program Forum at Twin Oaks Farm in Rockingham County.

Since being elected in 1992, Goodlatte “has applied his common sense, expertise and determination to finding solutions to the challenges facing American agriculture,” Stallman said. He said Goodlatte “continues to lead the fight against regulatory overreach. He is a champion for private forestry and has worked tirelessly to ensure farmers of all sizes have access to the conservation programs that assist them in maximizing their farms’ economic returns while contributing measurable results toward enhancing the environment.” VFBF nominated Goodlatte for the award, in part for his work on federal farm policy and Chesapeake Bay-related legislation. Goodlatte also has been active on other key agriculture issues, including an attempt to balance the United States’ desire to

provide homeland security with a stable effective workforce for agriculture; and relief for poultry growers during avian influenza outbreaks. “Bob is a clear and faithful friend to our industry, a devoted public servant and deserving of this award,” Pryor said. Goodlatte is the current vice chairman and a past chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. He also serves on the House Committee on the Judiciary and Committee on Education and the Workforce. “I am honored to receive the Golden Plow award,” Goodlatte said. “The agriculture industry has a significant impact on America’s economy and is at the center of many communities throughout the nation— including the 6th District. Farming and ranching are essential to our prosperity.”

Cultivate JULY 2012



Farm Bureau members can get a $5001 private offer toward the purchase or lease of most new GM vehicles, including the Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD lineup. Visit for more details. They get tough jobs done with a maximum payload of up to 6,635 lbs.2 and a conventional towing capacity of up to 17,000 lbs.3 And through the GM Business Choice Program,4 business owners receive even more when purchasing or leasing an eligible Chevrolet or GMC truck or van for business use. Visit for details. Place your Farm Bureau Logo here.

Place your Dealer Logo here.


Offer valid toward the purchase or lease of new 2011, 2012 and 2013 Buick, Chevrolet and GMC models excluding Chevrolet Camaro Convertible and Volt. Not available with some other offers. Not valid on prior purchases. Program subject to change without notice. See dealer for complete details. Customer must take delivery by 4/1/2014. Must be a member of a participating state Farm Bureau for at least 60 days prior to date of delivery to be eligible. Not available in all states. Member must provide a valid membership verification certificate prior to vehicle purchase or lease. Go to 2 Requires Regular Cab model and gas engine. Maximum payload capacity includes weight of driver, passengers, optional equipment and cargo. 3 Requires available 6.6L Duramax® diesel engine. Maximum trailer ratings assume a properly equipped base vehicle plus driver. See dealer for details. 4 To qualify, vehicles must be used in the day-to-day operation of the business and not solely for transportation purposes. Must provide proof of business. This program may not be compatible with other offers or incentive programs. Consult your local Chevrolet or GMC dealer or visit for program compatibility and other restrictions. Take delivery by 9/30/2012. Farm Bureau and the American Farm Bureau Federation® are registered service marks owned by the American Farm Bureau Federation, and are used herein (or by GM) under license. ©2012 General Motors. All rights reserved.

Virginia Farm Bureau Save with Choice Hotels

Custom Buildings That Fit Your Style and Budget


G a ra g e s | E q u i n e | Fa r m S t o ra g e | G e n e ra l P u r p o s e

Great locations. Great brands. Great value. To book, call 800.258.2847 or visit and enter your Virginia Farm Bureau Special Rate ID and your personal Choice Privileges member number to earn points while saving.

A workshop where you can indulge your hobby, a garage to house your car collection, a storage building for your toys or just a place where you can relax and have fun with your friends and family—whatever your idea is of the perfect building, Morton can make it a reality. For over 100 years, we have provided our customers exceptional quality and customer service. At Morton Buildings, we work with you from concept through completion, taking the hassle out of your construction project. To learn more and to get started, contact Morton Buildings today. 800-447-7436 •

© 2011 Choice Hotels International, Inc. All rights reserved. 10-415/06/11

©2012 Morton Buildings, Inc. A listing of GC licenses available at Reference Code 601


Cultivate JULY 2012

MORE THAN 55 PERCENT OF ADULTS in the United States lose or break their sunglasses every year. That’s according to a report by The Vision Council, which represents optical industry manufacturers and suppliers. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation could end up costing them and the 27 percent who do not wear sunglasses a lot more than a pair of shades. UV radiation remains a threat to eye health, yet few understand the risk and consequences of cumulative UV exposure. In fact, 20 percent of adults do not feel their eyes are at risk for sun exposure, and 11 percent do not believe that unprotected exposure to UV rays can cause health problems. “A substantial proportion of people still do not understand that UV exposure is harmful to the eyes as well as the skin,” said Dr. Paul Michelson, an ophthalmologist and chairman of The Vision Council’s medical advisory body. UV rays can penetrate the internal structures of the eye, causing serious temporary and permanent vision disorders. Short-term damage can range from bloodshot or sensitive eyes to painful conditions like photokeratitis, known as sunburn of the eye. High doses of UV radiation can lead to long-term health issues like cataracts, abnormal eye growths, cancer of the eye and surrounding skin, and macular degeneration. Sunglasses and other UV-protective prescription eyewear remain the best defense against UV damage to vision. “It’s not necessary to buy expensive sunglasses,” Michelson said, “it is more important to choose a pair that offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays, because both types can damage vision.” Look for a label that also says the sunglasses meet American National Standards Institute, or ANSI, standards.

It’s important that adults and children wear sunglasses to protect their eyes. Children receive three times more annual sun exposure than adults, and their still-developing eyes are at greater risk.

The Vision Council also recommends the following tips to mitigate UV risk:

• Consider comfort when purchasing sunglasses; they won’t get worn if they aren’t comfortable. Also consider purchasing more than one pair so you will have a backup.

• Purchase sunglasses from a reputable eyewear retailer.

• Talk with a retailer about the best lens and frame options for your face shape, activities and lifestyle. Wraparound frames with larger temples will help block the sun from side angles.

Also make sure that your children get in the habit of wearing sunglasses. Only 58 percent of adults make their children wear shades. Children receive three times the amount of annual sun exposure that adults do, and their still-developing eyes allow more radiation to reach their retinas. For more information on sunglasses and access to online and mobile tools, visit the Vision Council’s website at

• Select a lens color that improves clarity and reduces glare.

“A substantial proportion of people still do not understand that UV exposure is harmful to the eyes as well as the skin.” — Dr. Paul Michelson, ophthalmologist

Cultivate JULY 2012


Marketplace N E W


S E R V I C E :

Find the summer’s freshest farm products near you, with Farm Bureau Fresh If you’re interested in buying and serving the freshest farm products available in your community, a new Farm Bureau member service can make them easier to find. Farm Bureau Fresh, based on the Virginia Farm Bureau website at marketplace, lets members who farm place free, searchable listings for local foods and other farm products. Consumers can use Farm Bureau Fresh to search for products in any of 11 categories (New categories are being developed this summer as well), or use a ZIP code to locate all producers in an area who sell to the public. In addition to addresses, phone numbers and farm websites, Farm Bureau Fresh provides a map and Google travel directions.

Products currently are being listed in the following categories:

• • • • • • • • • • •

agritourism; aquaculture; bees and honey; Christmas trees; CSAs; flowers; fruit; mushrooms; pick-your-own; pumpkins; and vegetables.

To see how Farm Bureau Fresh works—and then find the summer’s freshest farm goods—visit VaFarmBureau. org/marketplace.

Farm Bureau Fresh listings are available exclusively to Farm Bureau producer members in Virginia, and you can list your products in as many applicable categories as you like. To see how Farm Bureau Fresh works—and then list your farm products for interested buyers—visit

Fresh vegetables and fruits, pick-your-own venues, pumpkins and cut flowers are among the products consumers can find with Farm Bureau Fresh. 30

Cultivate JULY 2012

Marketplace CROPS ANTIQUE APPLE TREES – Summer Rambo, Wolf River, Virginia Beauty, Yellow Transparent. Over 100 different varieties available for planting. Catalog $3. Write: Urban Homestead, 818-A Cumberland Street, Bristol, VA 24201. 276-466-2931. AZOMITE – Mineral supplement with over 70 trace elements. www.Azomite. com for Va. dealers. DF International 540-373-3276. DEER AND RABBIT REPELLENT – $12.95 Makes 10 gallons. Safe, effective, long-lasting, guaranteed. 540-586-6798. MADISON COUNTY – All natural, pastured, free-range chicken, tender, flavorful. Heirloom specialty vegetables too. 540-738-0436.

FARM EQUIPMENT 2008 KRAFTSMAN – Gooseneck trailer 20-ft. deck, 5-ft. dove tail, like new $5,000. 434-634-9714.

ALLIS CHALMERS – 7040 136HP, good condition, runs great, new batteries, 8-ft. bush hog mower $6,500. 540-432-1989. ALLIS CHALMERS G – Decent shape, asking $2,200. 540-439-4010. DR. BUGGIE – Completely rebuilt, all metal original, sanded, painted, completely functional, early 1900s. 757-562-6796. FOR SALE – Bush Hog Clipper 500, 5-ft. Very good condition $325. Call 540-334-1424. FRICK – 01 sawmill, hydraulic log turner 471 Detroit edger, good condition, $7,500. 804-307-8201. JOHN DEERE – 4610 4WD power reverser, canopy, 45HP, quick attach loader, 1967 hours, $16,500. 540-547-3450. MASSEY FERGUSON – 1529L tractor/ LDR, 60-hrs. Quality trailer 18-ft. dual axle. Must sell, payoff $15,500. 434-414-4690.

SHAVER – 8-inch fence post driver, very good condition, Louisa, $1,550. 804-339-2072

HAY AND STRAW CHADWELL FARMS – 2012 good quality mix square bales hay. Call for more information 865-585-7188.

LIVESTOCK ANGUS BULLS – Calving ease, semen tested, excellent bloodlines, reasonably priced and good selection. Delivery available, C-Stock farm, Scottsville. Day 434-286-2743 after 7 p.m. 434-981-1397 or 434-286-2423.

REGISTERED – Black Angus seed stock; fall born; bulls and heifers; AI sire. Sammy Smith 434-664-8767. REGISTERED – Dwarf Nigerian goats, Shetland sheep, angora rabbits, yarns, farm tours, educational programs for children and adults. 804-725-5839, SALE – 20 Ang/Sim heifers A.I. $2,395. Also 531 CAT dozer, 2090 Case tractor. 434-250-8038. TUNIS SHEEP – Chute Turntable wool, roving rams and ewes. Call for more information. 757-242-3218.

CHAROLAIS BULLS – High quality and easy calving, veterinarian owned. $1,075 to $1,875. Abingdon, Va. 276-628-9543. MADISON COUNTY – Raised all natural, 100% pastured, grain finished Angus, Angus x beef. Wholesale whole, 1/2, 1/4 sides. Retail by pound; select packs via USPS shipping. Purchases at farm call 540-923-4036.

Farm Bureau needs your updated contact information, including e-mail Are your membership records current? If you’ve moved, acquired a new telephone number or changed your name, it’s important that your new information is reflected in your membership and insurance records. Additionally, your email address helps Farm Bureau reach you in instances where prompt communication is important.

If you need to update your records, email your current contact information to, and our staff will handle the update. You’re also welcome to call or visit your county Farm Bureau office to update your records.

Poultry farmers, barbecue sauce recipe featured in July’s Real Virginia

Watch this!

To view RealVirginia, visit

Virginia’s poultry farmers are part of the largest farm sector in the state, and some of them even own their own processing company. And if you’re looking for a tasty summer barbecue recipe, see how raspberries can jazz up a sauce for grilled spare ribs, poultry or pork from food writer Kendra Bailey Morris. Plus Andy Hankins has some tips for raising raspberries in your yard, and Mark Viette explains how to have a colorful garden. It’s all on Real Virginia, Virginia Farm Bureau’s monthly television program. Real Virginia airs nationwide at 6:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month on RFD-TV, as well as on 41 cable systems and five broadcast stations in Virginia. It’s also available online at Check local cable listings, or visit for a list of participating stations.

Cultivate JULY 2012


Free Tickets— Compliments of Your Farm Team.

Get the Membership Advantage. Farm Bureau Insurance is known for being on the spot when our members need us most. But we also contribute on a daily basis to the quality of life in communities across the commonwealth. Present this ad (or your Farm Bureau membership card) to any participating Virginia Minor League box office and receive two free tickets to a game during the month of August. LIMIT TWO TICKETS PER MEMBER PER DAY. Some restrictions may apply. Please contact the specific baseball club for more information. For additional coupons, please visit your local Farm Bureau office.









July 2012 Cultivate  

Introduced in July 2008, Cultivate is published quarterly with a focus on safe, fresh and locally grown foods and the Virginia farms that pr...