My name is Jesse Stretch, and I am the principal farmer operating Field Station Farm. There is a lot to say about who we are, mostly because who we are depends on you. We are not a conventional farm that sells exclusively to commodity markets. We are a network of food- and farm-loving Virginians. We are the family that picks up eggs at 6 a.m. from beneath a sleeping hen, and the 65-year-old father who spends his evenings covered in grease and oil to fix a broken tractor; we are the custodians of land and soil quality; we are customers who support the farm and buy the farm products; we are a community of people—not one person or one family. The farm cannot exist without everyone involved.
Our acreage here at Field Station was farmed by my great-grandparents, Boyden and Ruth Nuckols, and before them by my great-great-grandparents Sterling and Hattie Wiltshire. The property has conveyed itself over the years from the Wiltshires to the Nuckols, and now to the Proffitt-Stretch family, all through our lineage of the daughters of Sterling Wiltshire who farmed this land during the 1800s.
Upon the end of Ruth and Boyden Nuckols’ farming operation, which spanned over 70 straight years of production by their own hands, the fields we now farm were leased to another farmer and put into conventional grain production. Over the many decades of tillage and convention grain farming that have occurred on this field, dating back to the late 1700s, the soil has taken a beating. Early tillage techniques allowed for much runoff and loss of nutrient content due to misunderstandings about the capacity for soils to retain plant nutrients under a continuous tillage farming system.
As a means of replenishing the deteriorated soil quality, we have implemented a modern (or ancient) program of pasture-based farming designed to revitalize the topsoil, eliminate runoff, allow for natural bio-diversity, and provide a sustainable and nutrient-rich platform for the families who will farm this land once we are gone. Who we are depends largely upon how we can manage the quality of our soils, because without high-quality soils a high-quality life is truly impossible.
Field Station Farm seeks to improve in every area. Our goal is continuous evaluation of our farmland and our methods, as well as our customer’s desires. It is important that our community of family, friends, and customers sustains itself adequately and responsibly from the amount of land that we are capable of putting into production. Who we are is a group of like-minded people who enjoy good food and hard work, and who value the past, present, and future of the Virginia land we have so long farmed and lived upon.
Field Station Farm is a pasture-based small farm. We sell finished meat products directly to customers, and market almost exclusively through word of mouth. We primarily raise beef cattle and are open to working with local purchasers who desire high-quality, healthy, and sustainably raised meats for their consumption. We are a homestead-style operation and also raise small livestock and poultry, often for our own consumption or enjoyment.