Heart & Bones Hollow
Heart & Bones Hollow is located in Fluvanna County on property owned by Karen Mann and Mary Beth “Bones” Fannon. The 25-acre farm has been in operation since 2015 and is a regular participant in weekly farmers markets in Scottsville and Charlottesville. As a Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) farm, they grow a variety of seasonal vegetables using regenerative practices that focus on building up organic matter and improving the soil through mulching, cover cropping, and crop rotation. CNG is an alternative certification nearly identical to the requirements for Organic Certification, with the main difference being in the certifying process. They use a half acre of their property for growing vegetables, including a high tunnel, focusing mostly on heirloom varieties. They also partner with nearby ShireFolk Farm to share growing space, resources, and labor.
In addition to their vegetable production, Heart & Bones has planted a half acre blueberry orchard in 2019 which they expect will be bearing fruit in a few years. They also use three acres of their woods for raising heritage breed pigs called Gloucestershire Old Spots. They are committed to managing their land holistically and using only previously cleared land for growing crops. They are proactive in keeping their animals fenced out of waterways, rotating them as much as possible in the woods to reduce their negative impact. They have also installed a solar system on their house soon after moving in, which provides power for the farm operation.
Heart & Bones Hollow gets its name from the nicknames of the two owners (“Heart” for Karen and “Bones” for Mary Beth). The inspiration came about from the merging of two events. One was Karen’s experience working for a network of farms for refugees in Georgia as the Market Manager - selling the produce grown by the refugees through markets, CSA, and restaurant accounts. The second event was the passing of Karen’s grandfather and the bequeathing of his property in Fluvanna County to her. Since the property did not have a house, they were fortunate to be able to buy a house on an adjacent property. They moved in and began farming right away.
In addition to working full-time on the farm, Karen is a pastor in the United Church of Christ and is starting a church in Fluvanna/Scottsville as an extension of Sojourners UCC in Charlottesville. Bones works full-time in Richmond and helps on the farm at nights and on weekends.
The 0% SOIL Loan received by Heart & Bones Hollow from Slow Money Virginia in August 2019 went toward purchase of a wood chipper to mulch downed trees on the property. The chipper helps them in several ways 1) managing the woods, especially dead fallen trees; 2) providing wood chips for animal bedding and to cover ground in places where they had to hold animals for a longer period of time due to weather, illness, birthing, etc.; 3) providing mulch for the garden to help in rebuilding the soil and keeping weeds down without tilling, and mulch for the blueberry orchard to reduce watering needs and provide ground cover.
Here is a picture of the chipper as it arrived on the farm on Sept. 18, 2019: