College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Institute of Applied Agriculture

Willowsford Develops Agriculture & Taps into IAA

Image Credit: 
Deb Dramby

Forty miles from Washington DC in Loudoun County VA, a new development named Willowsford is being built.  So what? That’s nothing new. Ah, but this one is unique and has ties to the IAA.

The Willowsford community is being built with ecological friendliness at its core.  For starters, 2,000 of the 4,000 acres will be put into permanent easement and managed by the Willowsford Conservancy. Extensive walking trails, mountain bike trails, community gardening areas, and dog parks are being created.  But, most unusual, a few hundred acres will be farmed.  Yes, the community is being designed around a functioning farm.  The developers believe it is important to future homeowners to have access to fresh food.

In early 2011, IAA’s Sustainable Agriculture Advisor Ellen Pollishuk helped develop the ag plan for Willowsford.   “We came up with a staged plan of how to use the various allotted ag lands. We decided to start with a very customer friendly CSA market farm, placed close to the first phase of the building, and adjacent to a community center.  By August, 2011, a farm manager was hired and the farm started to take shape,” Ellen explains.

By summer 2012 a barn, irrigation, and deer fencing had been installed, about 4 acres were under intensive cultivation, and Willowsford Farm needed more help.  IAA’s first graduate in Sustainable Agriculture, Deb Dramby was hired to help with the everyday farm work, and to coordinate volunteers and visitors.  

Deb Dramby

Plans for 2013 include farming an additional 50-acre site, more appropriate for larger scale vegetable production, and a 100-acre site to house beef cattle and free range chickens.

Even in a tight market, new homes are selling at Willowsford.  Who knew that the Local Food Movement would translate into new farms becoming established inside of housing developments?

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