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Sustainability In Hand

April 14, 2013

When Steve Martin decided he needed a weekend get-away from his job with the Department of Defense he was only beginning to think of that time, years from then, when he would retire. He found two 10-acre contiguous parcels of land near Romney and started his farm. Located near the hamlet of Three Churches, his could see one across the fields, hence the name, Church View Farm.DSC_0037

Although they often worked near each other, Steve met Ruth when they both were moved to another location while the Pentagon was being repaired. She was thrilled with the concept of an early retirement and so, they made their escape from the crowds and then really got to work.DSC_0098

As they developed their concept it became apparent that they placed a high value on sustainability. While they recognize that they are part of a larger farming community as well as active residents in  West Virginia’s beautiful Potomac Highlands, they understand that they can produce much of their own food needs themselves.DSC_0044

They raise Katahdin sheep and have had several lambs so far this spring and are expecting more. They sell some for breeding stock and others are processed for meat. DSC_0051Two companion mules help provide protection and they have not had any problems with predators, even in this rural area.DSC_0059

DSC_0067Turkeys and chickens are the other animals on the farm, providing additional meat and eggs.  Several fenced areas are set aside for the chickens to free range. A small chicken tractor is used for a few more birds.

DSC_0073DSC_0077Raised beds provide extensive seasonal garden areas and the high tunnel extends the growing cycle. Ruth and Steve continued to harvest greens through this past winter and are seeing new growth in other crop areas.  Always looking for ways to maximize space, Steve and Ruth are trying strawberries in gutters positioned inside the high tunnel.

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Herbs are raised in reused old tires, with an unexpected benefit of providing bumpers during lawn mowing.DSC_0039

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Three varieties of table grapes, raspberries and blackberries and numerous fruit trees are planted near the house as well.  Tree trunks have been wrapped to discourage the deer.  Four beehives not only provide excellent cross pollination of  plants but honey for them to enjoy.

Steve has installed solar panels on the roofs of two buildings, providing the majority of their electric needs. He hopes West Virginia follows the example of Virginia, which recently passed a law permitting private owners of solar fields to sell excess power to the electric utility company, thereby reducing the public need for other fuels.

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Ruth’s skills extend into the kitchen where she cans the farm’s produce and also makes soap to sell at market.   The Martins are interested in Romney’s plans for the new co-op developing into a year-round indoor market.
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Church View Farm

Steven and Ruth Martin

Romney, WV

(304) 822-3878

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Nadine Miller permalink
    April 14, 2013 9:46 am

    The Martins’ non-GMO, pesticide and antibiotic free produce and livestock, coupled with their amiability and generosity are an asset to Hampshire County!

    • April 14, 2013 11:49 am

      I tried to make the point that while they espouse sustainability, they are not isolationists. They very much are a part of their community.

  2. TA Reese permalink
    April 14, 2013 10:12 am

    The Martins are an inspiration to so many. Thank you, Ruth and Steve, for being so generous with your time and seasoned advice. Church View Farms is a great example of how to live closer to the land and to be more independent of the debt-based economic system.

    • April 14, 2013 11:48 am

      And it is achievable, at various scales, by each of us. So you don’t have 10 acres, okay, plant a small garden or a few pots and cut your food costs a bit by growing some of your own produce and learn to put some up. While a high tunnel is a pretty pricey feature, a low hoop-house can be built for less than $25 and can help with season extension crops just as well. I have learned a lot in this past year of visiting farms and it has changed our life in my family in how we eat and how we acquire food.

  3. Leonard J. Martin permalink
    April 14, 2013 6:23 pm

    I know these guys…They do good work…I can attest to all of the above…it is my delight to call you son and daughter-in-law.

    • April 14, 2013 6:43 pm

      Mr. Martin, I’ve gotten to know Steve via emails and comments and am so glad he pressured me to come visit. He and Ruth are really super people!

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