On several acres of bottom land bordering the Robinson River in Culpeper County, James and Holly Hammond grow hundreds of varieties of about 30 kinds of vegetables and herbs—an abundance of flavors for their customers to discover.
In the spring, they offer four types of radishes that they say are surprisingly popular, as well as small, tender salad turnips—crunchy with a fresh, mild flavor. Spring and early summer also bring a wide assortment of carrots, beets, kale, chard, cabbage, lettuce, peas, scallions, and spinach.
In midsummer, a rainbow of tomatoes grows ripe—yellow, purple, orange, green, red, and pink varieties, including many heirlooms. One favorite is the Green Zebra—bright green with golden stripes and a tangy, zesty, flavor. Plus there are all of the peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, garlic, and more.
The bounty of summer harvests stretches into fall, and cooler weather brings back the crisp spring flavors, with the addition of winter squash, arugula, and a spicy green called mizuna.
James and Holly sell their food at farmers markets in Culpeper and Charlottesville. Customers can also join their CSA (for “community supported agriculture”), and pick up a share of freshly picked seasonal food every week from June through October.
Whisper Hill is a new farm, entering its third season. Both James and Holly come from farming backgrounds, in Arizona and North Carolina. As interns at Waterpenny Farm in Rappahannock, they learned how to run a successful, locally-oriented produce farm. As they were preparing to launch Whisper Hill, they also took the Exploring the Small Farm Dream course co-sponsored by the Piedmont Environmental Council. Now, they come back to the course as guest speakers, helping other aspiring farmers to get their start.
Holly and James say there is nothing they would rather do than farm. Holly says, “So many people, when you talk to them, say ‘Oh, it can’t be done.’ And then we worked at it, and we’re like, ‘Actually it can be done.’”