VMRC Farm at Willow Run Tour Report

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On August 10th, 2021, 14 Sunnyside residents went to the Virginia Mennonite Retirement Community farm at Willow Run. There is a video available in Res Apps under the icon for “Go Green” and then under "Presentation" and "The Farm at Willow Run Trip Video". Or you can watch on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NxqMBZim2c

We were hosted by Scott Richardson (IL Director), Nate Clark (Head Farmer), Greg Nesselrod (Buildings & Grounds), Amelia, Wade and Cabell, who are the farmers.
https://www.vmrc.org/the-farm The 40-acre 1800’s farm was bought in 2008. Solar was put on the roof of the barn to handle electric power for the farm. 40,000 lbs of produce per year that goes to VMRC kitchens, CSA, retail shop, etc. They have 3 greenhouses for year-round production. They have 13 goats to help with land management and these eat the invasive plants. They have bees and grow mushrooms. They are now planting chestnuts and oaks to enhance a wooded area for walking and biking trails (the farm is ½ mile from VMRC walking on the streets). They use Eastern Mennonite University and James Madison University students as interns. Building & Grounds mows and they contract out some work. We were given a bag of veggies.

Cal Redico donated the money to support solar. The community center, farm and 8 residents have solar and it is working well. Green Hill Solar did the work. Residents are responsible for maintenance. Tax credits don’t apply for VMRC residents. They expect payback in about 10 years. They have two chargers for electric vehicles.

They would consider discussion about a joint venture of some kind. Tom Harkins is going to follow up. VMRC leadership is very supportive of the projects. They got much of the work started with an NRCS Grant - https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/cig/

--By Cindy Westley