Located about 20 minutes south of Charlottesville, Virginia, Bellair Farm is a sprawling 853-acre property with a historical past and and present purpose devoted to regenerative agricultural of the highest esteem. About 30-acres of the property is farmed for the production of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and fresh cut flowers. In 2015, the growing operation received its official Organic Certification. It’s a process that takes several years and was just an official vindication of the organic and holistic practices that had already been firmly established.
This is an incredibly beautiful property, and the size and scope of their operation is impressive. Through crop rotations, the use of cover crops and weed fabrics, and good old-fashioned hand weeding, the small staff works tirelessly to produce the cleanest, most nutritious produce for their local community. During hot, dry periods common to Virginia summers, the farm irrigates through a combination of well water and water from the nearby Hardware River, both of which it tests regularly.
In addition to their large growing operation, the farm raises pastured pork, as well as chickens for meat and eggs. For meat chickens, they raise the heritage-breed Freedom Ranger which is well-suited to a pasture environment, as they like to roam freely and are well-accustomed to pecking in the grass for food. While pastured poultry receives great nutrition from the bugs, grass, and worms they eat, they are ravenous feeders and are commonly supplemented with grains. Bellair uses Non-GMO feed from Sunrise Farms in Stuarts Draft.
The buzz of activity on modern-day Bellair Farm hasn’t changed all that much in over 200 years. It was founded in the 17th century and has been in continual operation as a working farm ever since. The property has been owned by Cynthia Davis and her family for several decades. In 1992, the farm was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The farm began a Community Service Agriculture (CSA) program in 2011. In a CSA, consumers buy a “share” of the farm’s output, which is delivered weekly and changes as the growing seasons evolve. Bellair’s CSA also includes a pick-your-own feature in which members can go to the farm and pick vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers from their own designated one-acre section of the farm.
Additionally, Bellair Farm runs a series of workshops throughout the summer and fall on topics such as cooking with seasonal foods and how to ferment vegetables.