Where to build a farmsteading community? (Richmond, Roanoke: how much, houses, good schools)
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I'm with a small group that is searching for affordable farmland in southwestern Virginia. Our goal is to build a farmsteading community centered around an organic farm, green building, alternative energy and sustainable lifestyle. We've traveled through several towns in the area (Hillsville, Floyd, Galax, Stuart, Martinsville and others), but would appreciate hearing from people who know the area and can provide more in-depth information.
Here are some of the things we're looking for:
--Affordable (No more than $300,000)
--Good farmland with on-site water source (pond/spring)
--Perk sites for at least 20 homes (or town open to alternative wastewater treatment)
--Close (10 miles or so) to a progressive community open to alternative building (less stringent zoning/bureaucracy), organic produce, religious tolerance
--Close to an active farming, "Mayberry"-style town with at least two grocery stores (farmers' market or co-op?), medical care, good schools, community college or university (within 10 miles or so)
Thanks in advance for any guidance you can offer!
Last edited by Yac; 10-26-2007 at 11:21 AM..
Reason: link removed
Hey Solar, good luck with your land search! Keep the curious (such as myself) posted.
I'd recommend the Roanoke area but the $6K/acre ship sailed a long while ago. The last batch I bought here in Boones Mill was January of this year and paid $10,500 an acre for 55 acres and only 10 was open. Martinsville jumps to mind, land is certainly cheap in Henry County but Mayberry it ain't, nor is it very progressive.
Franklin County is loaded up with good, deep, springs. During this terrible drought season my well has never dropped below 15gpm. I'd be interested to know how well Floyd wells faired since they are just 15 miles west of me as the crow flies, but are on the west side of the blue ridge and about 1,000' higher in altitude.
We just drove through Stuart's Draft on our way back home today; that's reasonably close to Staunton and Charlottesville. Lots of farmland there and in Grottoes? Anything close to Charlottesville is spendy lately, but there is some good farmland there.
If you can get by with less acreage you might look into the Ferrum area. It's close to Rocky Mount and Floyd (over the gap) and there is some good farmland there. The growing season would be longer than in Floyd and most places in SWVA save for deep SWVA near the TN border.
I'm thinking that 50 acres of land that can be subdivided into 20 house parcels is going to start in the $8,000 per acre range in SWVA. I hope you prove me wrong though!
I have been looking in the SW Va area for years now and basically, as the previous poster said, the cheap land ship has sailed. Wealthy boomers have bid the prices way way up AND are putting "restrictive convenants" on everything to insure that the only "farm animals" allowed are horses! (I guess they think horse manure is not as smelly as cow manure...) Still, with 300K as your budget, you can still find big parcels without restrictions. I would try the area north and west of Independence. It is a beautiful area. The so-called Elk Creek area has been discovered by boomers and is now going for as high as 15K/acre. However, the other areas further west are still somewhat reasonable.
As for "progressive community", that is Floyd, hands down. But it's been discovered and I don't know how much luck you'll have finding land that lays well at 6k/acre. Five years ago, yes, but perhaps too late now. Maybe the housing collapse will help the situation, but raw land is a different deal than houses. They aren't making any more of it.
I see you are also from NC. Have you tried looking in Stokes county/ north of Mount Airy? I have started looking there and this seems like a possible area for farmland too. And more affordable than the land at elevation. Of course, as our yearly droughts become more serious, you do have to worry about water. You could try calling local welldrillers in your area of interest to see what's really going on.
I'm assuming since you are calling yourself "solar", that you are interested in generating solar power. If so, you need to know that lots of the land available is in ravines or on north-facing slopes. I have come across this problem a lot--go to look at something that finally seems affordable only to realize that it will only get the sun for about two hours in the winter! Of course, if you had 50-100 acres, presumably you could locate solar panels at the top of your very own hill. But building passive-solar houses would still be problematic unless they are all out in open pasture. Then you'll broil in the summer...
Well, I can tell you I moved to Washington County, VA recently after living in New Jersey for 20+ years....and the land here is fairly reasonable. Try near Whitetop, VA...Rugby, VA and Mouth of Wilson, VA...they are towns all in a line straddling the VA/NC border. Good luck!
If and when you find it, drop me a line. I am interested in small scale organic dairy farming- cows, not goats. Our biggest challenge has been that hubby must have high speed interenet so he can maintain our income while me and the "farmhands" (our kids) get the place going. Good luck on your search
Wooooh boy, I just got my 2008 Reassessment Letter from Franklin County. 111 acres + 3 barns = $1,149,000 assessment. That's up, oh, about $800,000 from 2003's assessment of $400,000.
The land and barns were undervalued at $400,000 but, sheesh, that was a big flipping jump! I missed the boat for the land use program for calendar year 2008. That's my fault, but then again, I had no idea assessment would jump 300%.
I just happened to catch an episode of NOW on one of the Richmond PBS TB stations back in early November about tobacco farmers switching to organic farming in the Abingdon, VA area.
Here area some exerpts from their website:
Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD) is a not-for-profit organization working in the Appalachian region of Virginia and Tennessee. Formed in 1995, ASD focuses on developing healthy, diverse and ecologically sound economic opportunities through education and training, and the development of cooperative networks and marketing systems. Our work encompasses two broad areas: Building a strong local food system based on organic and sustainable farming and fostering forest conservation through value-added wood processing and "green building." ASD links consumers with farmers and producers and provides hands-on opportunities for learning, advocacy and civic engagement.
Through market development, on-farm assistance and training, and public education, our Sustainable Agriculture Program seeks to assist family farmers in making a comfortable living from their land. To this end, ASD encourages organic farming - a method of raising crops and animals that is both gentler on the natural environment and more profitable for the farmer.
Appalachian Sustainable Development organizes workshops for farmers and gardeners, offers free technical advice for local growers, seeks to educate the general public about the benefits of organic farming and helps to make locally grown, organic foods available to area consumers.
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