“Our focus is to provide highly nutrient-dense, pure, clean food to our customers by including humans in an ecosystem of regenerative health,” say Andrea and Dendy Young of Hidden Creek Farm in Delaplaine, Va.
Since 2015, their agricultural operation in northern Fauquier has become a role model in the region for regenerative, organic and humane practices. Part of its success is credit to the Youngs’ holistic, science based approach, which views farming as part of, rather than separate from, nature. “It’s important that wildlife and natural habitat also thrive,” says Andrea.
Making this a reality on their 558 acres has been no easy task, involving a number of projects with American Farmland Trust, John Marshall Soil and Conservation District, Virginia Working Landscapes and Virginia Tech. When they first bought the property, its soils had been degraded, and invasive species ran rampant across the hillsides. “It wasn’t managed in a way that was trying to understand the whole,” says Andrea.
Now, many of the farm’s pastures are home to native grasses and wildflowers, and populations of native pollinators and ground-nesting birds are returning to the land. “Forage is a critically important factor for the health of all of the animals, including wildlife,” says Dendy.
In addition to making for happier livestock, this kind of pasture management also benefits something else — soil health. Allowing multiple species to move across the land sustains microbial diversity and healthy levels of organic matter, nutrients and minerals. “One of the basic concepts of regenerative agriculture is that you graze the pastures and then you let them rest. And that rest period is essential,” says Andrea, “it all comes back to the soil.”
Hidden Creek Farm is perhaps best known for its specialty livestock: Red Poll cattle, Tamalitsa™ pigs, Katahdin sheep and heritage chicken. These animals are bred to be pathogen- or parasite-resistant, or both, which helps keep animals and humans healthy. Seasonal organic produce is also a mainstay for the farm, which offers a variety of vegetables, herbs and greens that change with each season.
“Since we’ve moved in and started farming regeneratively, the land has really blossomed,” says Andrea. “I see us as very centrally in the middle of nature. We’ve run the farm in a way that allows for niches of life that otherwise couldn’t exist.”
You can find Hidden Creek Farm produce, meat, eggs and value-added products available for individual purchase or in CSA boxes, both found online at hiddencreekfarmllc.com. Their products can also be found at Field and Main, The Whole Ox, Locke Store, Market at Bluewater Kitchen, Upperville EverGro Farm and Feed Store, and the Warrenton, Middleburg and Buchanan Hall farmers markets.
Story by: Sophia Chapin | Photo by: Hugh Kenny