Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.
– Albert Einstein
Our names are Andrew and Kelly. We're a pair of Virginia-native viticulturists with a passion for sustainable living an local foodways. Together, we bring over 25 years of experience in wine, agriculture, and sustainability to the table, and its time for us to use that expertise to give something back to our community.
Artemisia Farm and Vineyard is a polyculture, bioregional approach to grape cultivation, with a preference for both European and North American grape cultivars and an assortment of supportive profit crops. In the spirit of polyculture, we are planting garlic, shiitake mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, lavender, culinary herbs, microgreens, and companion crops. You can read more about us in our recent press release penned by John Hagarty in the Fauquier Times, or you can read it on his blog.
Kelly holds a degree in Sustainability with a dual emphasis in agriculture and community development. She taught arid-lands agriculture at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, owned and operated a CSA in Kittery, Maine, and worked on multiple small farms throughout the United States. Her heart ultimately set on viticulture while working at a local vineyard in Northern Virginia. From there, she entered into wine sales, promoting the voice of sustainable, small-production wine in the larger market. Kelly now dedicates her life to sustainable enology and viticulture, and to the practice of poetry. She is a three-time published author, with her most recent publication, "Brettanomyces" entering circulation in November 2019.
Andrew eagerly learned viticulture from working for Jim Law at Linden, one of the most revered vineyards in the state. Additionally, Andrew brings to the table over a decade of expertise in the food & wine industry, including the successful management of a sustainable butcher shop and wine bar in Marshall, VA. Combined with a degree in Theater and extensive experience in set design, Andrew brings complex, beautiful ideas to life as easily as a bird takes to the air.
We are capable. We are trained. We are dedicated.
Artemisia is our dream.
We in invite you to join us in changing the cultural narrative of rural Virginia. Help us to recenter our agricultural norms closer to the earth and to each other. Work with us to rekindle local foodways and to enrich the mid-Atlantic wine trail with more authenticity, awareness, and longevity.
To accomplish this, we need to take a two-fold approach:
1. Farming in a mindful and renewable manner: Inspired by Kelly's work in permaculture and biodynamics, Artemisia is a system-based operation rather than the typical mono-crop model. We can avoid intensive chemicals through careful cultural practices in the vineyard (shoot thinning, ensuring adequate airflow) and by implementing complementary plants that encourage natural balance to take hold (varied blooms to attract beneficial pollinators and predatory insects, insect-repelling crops rich in volatile oils, and nitrogen-fixing cover crops such as clover and buckwheat to rebuild the soil.)
2. Connecting with local businesses to enhance the surrounding foodweb: Agriculture is about bringing the community together. It's about tending, nourishing, and supporting our friends and family. While our grapes will stay within the Virginia wine trade, we intend to partner with local gourmet food shops, co-ops, restaurants, and farmer's markets to bring our crops to our wider community. This also ensures that we have a stable source of income as well as accomplishing our goal of re-localizing the foodweb.
(Above) Bumblebees on Bee Balm, one of the many pollinator crops on site.
Stewardship, education, and ethical cultivation are the heart and soul of our endeavors upon this site. While our focus is production, we intend to make this site a place of learning. We plan to regularly host classes on vineyard upkeep, sustainable agriculture, cooking the specific crops we produce, and sustainable community development. Furthermore, we are inviting the community to become active participants on the farm. From harvest parties to town hall meetings to rural economic development, we hope to be active and contributing members of our community. Sustainability goes well beyond ecological farming. True sustainability takes place in the heart, where real change begins. This shift happens slowly, person-by-person, but we at Artemisia are willing to carry the banner as inspiration for others.
We have at our disposal myriad financial projections outlining very achievable goals. Our projected crop harvests are financially positive, even at our most conservative estimates. Within a maximum of five years, we intend to establish a profit-driven paradigm not just for Virginian viticulture, but for sustainable agrarianism statewide. Within a reasonable spectrum, we foresee the possibility to expand upon our current crop selection through enhanced agrodiversity, value-added product production, and possible partnership with local businesses.
Within 5-7 years, we plan to explore making botanical wine (vermouth, amaro) in collaboration with nearby distilleries and wineries. To this end, we would produce the majority of the botanicals needed on-site, with a specific focus on Virginia-native ingredients. Just as wine captures the terroir of a specific landscape, so too do botanical wines bottle the spirit and energy of a particular place.
(Above) Afternoon sun behind young grape leaves.
The funds you gift will be put towards to the infrastructure of the vineyard and gardens and the purchasing of basic cultivation materials. Your donations would cover our basic equipment, supplies, and labor costs. As a gesture of thanks, we have an exciting collection of kickbacks for you. We hope that you enjoy them, and that you'll continue to follow along with us as we grow. This kickstarter is the beginning of something truly fantastic, and we want to share it all with you, every step of the way.
Cultivation is more than a means to an end. How to eat, what to eat, and when to eat all speak to nuanced niches through which individuals interact. In changing the structure behind our food system from one of industrialized mass production to highly-diversified small-scale bioregionalism, we can revive the dying art of living in community with one another. Food should bring us together, whether on the plate or ensconced inside the glass of a wine bottle. Food is the glue that keeps cultures alive.
Wendell Berry says it best:
"The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.”
Thank you for hearing us. We hope that we can walk this path with you.
Kelly and Andrew
Risks and challenges
Agriculture is, by its nature, unpredictable. In the spirit of honesty, we are at the mercy of the weather and the market. Our initial equipment costs are steep, and the disease pressure in Virginia is high.
This being said, we are both trained in mid-Atlantic grape cultivation, and bring to the table a deep understanding of the challenges and hurtles therein. We know these plants. With the proper tools, we can build them a home, one free of diseases and pests, one in which they can not only survive, but thrive. This is the greatest push behind our Kickstarter.
We are working with more than Kickstarter in funding this project. We successfully closed on significant funding support from the FSA and Farm Credit, two entities with programs designed to help beginning farmers pay their initial startup fees. While this capital must eventually be paid back, it affords us flexibility and efficiency via the immediate purchase of equipment, a key factor in expediting our work. We enter into this project with a solid upfront financial foundation. Additional funds will ease the repayment of these resources and allow for more steady, intentional growth and development of the farm.
Insofar as hedging against climatic hurtles is concerned, diversified crop cultivation allows us a buffer for environmental fluctuations. If one crop suffers in a particular season, we have four or five that still thrive. At 1/3 to 1/2 of our crop-generated revenue, our grapevines are just one part of the greater picture. We know how temperamental Virginian weather can be. If we see a poor season with our grapes, we know that our hard-hitting cash crops (garlic, culinary herbs, mushrooms, lavender) will be there to pick up the slack.
Should the season go totally south, we still have microgreens and overwintered mushroom spores and garlic. Microgreens, in particular, are extremely low-input and high-value, making them one of our safest and most profitable ventures.
We know the market can be fickle, the weather moody, and the randomness of nature ever in wait, but we are confident that mindful planning, diversified cultivation, and deep attention to detail will pull us through any of the hurtles Virginia can throw at us.
Your support doesn't hurt, either.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (48 days)