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Discover Fauquier March 2018
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Financial Advisor
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Vice President
Financial Advisor
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2018 IS
Your dog
wants a
bigger yard.
Helping Sellers & Buyers fi nd
their Forever Home since 2005.
On the evening of December 24, 2012,
Remington farmer Alton Willingham
passed away at the age of 89. "Prior
to his death, he was still managing and
working full time on his family farm," says
Daron Culbertson, Alton's grandson and
owner of a farm service business,
Restoration. "He had no health issues
until that day. Farming is constant work,
but it's a rewarding life. It keeps you
Fifty years earlier, Mr. Willingham
had established a purebred Hereford
a n d c o m m e r c i a l
cattle operation at
Willingham Farm, a
family property that
dates back to the Civil
War. Growing up,
Daron learned that
the work suited him,
and decided to become
a farmer himself. When
Willingham Farm fell
to him, he was also
w o r k i n g o n T h e
Claxton, a second
family property about
seven miles away. Now he found himself
with two properties and more than 350
acres to manage.
As Willingham Farm's new manager and
co-owner, Daron's biggest priority was
replacing thousands of feet of timeworn
fencing that couldn't contain the cattle.
"I was on my way to my grandfather's
funeral when I got a call that the cows
got out," says Daron. "After the funeral, I
came home and switched out my black
suit for working clothes. My mother
looked at me and said, `Well, it starts.'"
And it did--but so did a remarkable new
chapter in the farm's story.
Daron soon realized that replacing so
much fencing was going to be a laborious
undertaking, but more importantly, a
costly one. Another concern was Marsh
Run, a creek that meandered through
acres of cow fields and fed into the
Rappahannock River. Thanks to the
cows, it had become a muddy mess
that was contributing to land compaction
and erosion. "It was rough when I
started," remembers Daron. "One day
I was measuring fence and thought,
`I'll never be able to afford this.' It was
overwhelming." But then he got a call
from Kris Jarvis, a conservation specialist
from the John Marshall Soil and Water
Conservation District (JMSWCD).
To his surprise and relief, Daron learned
he was eligible for a government program
that helps farmers by sharing the costs
required to set up best management
practices (BMPs). He could accomplish
everything that needed to be done to
restore order to the farm, and he didn't
have to do it alone.
Once a plan was drawn up for his
specific needs, Daron offered to do
the work on each phase
himself. Though it was
an unconventional
move for the program,
JMSWCD allowed
it. Thanks to their
financial assistance,
Daron's unique erosion
c h a l l e n g e s w e r e
resolved over the next
five years--but not
without tireless work.
He replaced 80,000
feet of fencing between
his two farms, installed gravel and
concrete pads under the animals' troughs,
planted native trees and shrubs to form
a natural buffer on the stream bank, dug
for water lines and wells, and expanded
his use of rotational grazing to salvage
soil and water. "Conservation programs
help the farmer and the county," says
Daron. "As far as I'm concerned, the
conservation district's intervention saved
my farm."
Daron's remarkably efficient work led
to a partnership with the JMSWCD. In
addition to working on his own projects,
he assists other farmers through Rural
Restoration with everything from farm
management and consulting to livestock
fencing and water system installation.
In 2017, Daron was recognized by the
Virginia Department of Conservation
and Recreation as the Clean Water
Farm Award Grand Winner for the
Rappahannock River Basin. The
award honors farmers who implement
outstanding conservation practices
to protect soil and water quality. To
learn more about Rural Restoration,
(540) 270-2185.
Bu sines s
A New Era in Farming:
Daron Culbertson Has Got a
Whole Lot Figured Out
Daron Culbertson
~ Caitlin Scott