Jesse Straight and his wife Liz did not grow up on a farm. Jesse grew up in a typical suburban neighborhood and had zero interest in farming. In fact, his father kept a vegetable patch at their home and he admits that he never worked on it once. After studying pre-med at the University of Virginia, he struggled to find a career path that satisfied him. He took up a job working for Habitat for Humanity and learned two very important lessons about himself: first, that he wanted to work outdoors, and second, that he enjoyed working with his hands over a typical office job.
He finally realized that farming was the right fit for him when a friend gave the couple the book A World Lost by Wendell Berry. The ideas in the book radically changed the way they viewed "the good life". In pursuit of a more integrated life that blossoms out of the home, they started Whiffletree Farm. The Straights have had many adventures as new farmers do and made many of the mistakes that new farmers make, but they stuck with it through the hard parts and the outcome has been a great success. They are now attempting to offer back to the farming community by teaching hopeful farmers the same lessons they learned as "Greenhorns" through apprenticeships that help young farmers to learn the ropes.
Jesse believes that at its best farming should emulate nature and he ensures that the animals on Whiffletree Farm are living as close to the way they would normally live in the wild as possible. He also states the daunting truth that "if you don't pay attention to the way nature works then you're going to run into problems and nature will always have the last word". As a farmer, the thing that would give him the most pride is seeing the land he is cultivating become more fertile than when he started. Whiffletree Farm takes great pride in their land improvement and animal welfare practices and of course in the high quality of their products that result.
- Animals are moved frequently (as much as twice a day) to fresh pasture
- Their chickens, turkeys, laying hens, and pigs are fed a natural diet of grass, bugs, and non-GMO feed
- Beef cattle are 100% grass-fed
- All products are free from MSG, chemical preservatives, nitrates, and phosphates, etc.
- The entire farm is a chemical-free environment
For Whiffletree Farm Store hours, visiting information, and details about pick-up locations, check out their website.
You can also check out this AWESOME video to see what everyday life on the farm is like for this first-generation farm family.