The vision of “the American farm” has long been that of the family farm — a plot of land that is worked and managed by a family, and then passed down from generation to generation. Today, however, that is often not the case — and Potomac Vegetable Farms (PVF) is living, growing proof.
PVF is comprised of two organic farms, one in Fairfax and one in Loudoun, and a majority of its management team are people who were not raised on farms. What makes PVF even more unique, however, is its knack for growing future growers.
PVF originated in Fairfax in the 1960s with two people with no farming experience: Tony and Hiu Newcomb. As their farm expanded, it became a place where suburban kids could come work and learn about farming and basic life skills.
In 1980, Ellen Polishuk was one of those suburban kids, and she would go on to become the manager of the Loudoun extension of PVF in 1992. Then, in 2011, Ellen and the Newcomb family invited Stacey Calberg and Casey Gustowarow to help manage the Loudoun farm.
Like Ellen and the Newcombs, the young couple had not been not raised on farms. In fact, Stacey and Casey had other careers in mind through high school and college. Yet, they found themselves working on farms in the summers and loving it. Stacey and Casey had the will to farm, but no land to farm on — and the PVF team helped them realize their dream.
“If agriculture is going to sustain itself,” Ellen explains, “we have to think way outside the boundaries of genetic links. The people who want to be the farmers of the future are often not related to farmers… I want to help grow more growers. That’s the next place for me to be.”
“There are possibilities for young growers who don’t have access to a family farm,” Casey says. “Stacey and I are very lucky to have been enveloped into PVF. It is a wonderful business that has been productive for 50 years — and continues to be economically sustainable, environmentally sustainable, and socially conscious.”
This farm profile was included in The Piedmont Environmental Council’s 2012 Buy Fresh Buy Local guide for Loudoun County.