Wandering River Farm
|Address:|| Gillums Ridge Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
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There are no regular visiting hours for this farm.
Wandering River Farm is a regeneratively managed livestock farm situated about 20 minutes west of downtown Charlottesville. It is run by Kelly Walsh and Gabriel Engle. Foodwaze has visited the farm and compiled a detailed description under the Details tab.
• What They Do: Using the principles of regeneration and permaculture, they raise holistically managed, 100% grass-fed beef cattle, pigs that are rotated among the forests and pastures on the property, and pastured laying hens. They also produce log-grown gourmet mushrooms.
• Regenerative Practices: Kelly and Gabe have a clear commitment to and passion for regenerative agriculture, which includes producing nutrient dense food while enriching the soil. Their pigs are rotated regularly and closely monitored to ensure their rooting activity benefits the earth instead of scarring it. Their chickens are raised on pasture and rotated regularly to fresh grass… and fed a nonGMO supplement. Their beef cattle are holistically managed through the process of high-density grazing in temporary paddocks. The cattle are moved to fresh grass each day and their entire diet consists of forages from the farm.
• Certifications: The farm has no official certifications, but Foodwaze does not generally emphasize them for livestock. What should be most important to consumers is the Regenerative Practices described above.
Consumers can buy Wandering River Farm products through their online store or at the Charlottesville City Market or Nelson County Farmers Market. Click on the Places tab to connect.
Kelly and Gabe are bright and full of youthful energy. They started Wandering River in 2016 and their arrival on the scene is a tremendous bonus to the local, regenerative food movement in Central Virginia.
There is not currently a way for the public to visit the farm, but stop by and meet Kelly and Gabe at the farmers markets!
This listing was compiled using the following processes:
• A visit to the farm and discussion with the farm operators.
• The use of other research about the farm and its practices.
Wandering River Farm is tucked into a beautiful, undulating slice of the Blue Ridge Mountain foothills just west of Charlottesville, off Route 250. It is run by Kelly Walsh and Gabriel Engle, who oversee a multi-species livestock operation that uses regenerative, pasture-based, rotational practices to build soil health and produce nutrient-dense food. Foodwaze has had the opportunity to visit their farm to learn first-hand about what they do.
They raise a variety of livestock with a small herd of Jersey cattle serving as the backbone of their land management program. The herd is kept in high-density paddocks and moved to a fresh grass daily, and sometimes more frequently than that. Grazing, ruminant animals like cattle, when holistically managed, are instrumental to building healthy soil and helping capture carbon from the atmosphere. At the same time they are munching on a healthy salad bar of orchard grass, clover, and other forages that help them develop nutrient dense, healthy meat.
The pigs on the farm also play a vital role in keeping the soil healthy with their rigorous rooting activity and through the natural fertilization they leave behind. Kelly and Gabe raise a variety of heritage breed pigs including Tamworth, Gloucester Old Spot, Large Black, Berkshire and Duroc. The pigs are rotated regularly and closely monitored to ensure their rooting activity plays a positive role in disturbing the landscape without going to far. The pigs have an amazing outdoor setting in which to frolic, which clearly keeps them happy, playful… and welcoming to strangers.
Last are the hens, which are protected by portable fencing and moved regularly. The flock of about 250 birds is given abundant room to roam freely and peck at worms, bugs and seeds in the grass. Their natural diet is supplemented with non-GMO feed. There’s a mobile hen house that is easily moved with an old pick-up truck.
Kelly and Gabe started Wandering River Farm in 2016 on private property resided on by the owners. They named the farm in part due to the Mechums River and its stream tributaries that run through it. But they also like the symbolism in the name. Gabe grew up in Charlottesville, but Kelly is from Florida. Kelly studied ecology in Florida and has trained on several other farms. Gabe grew up in Charlottesville and studied permaculture in Australia, including some time under the tutelage of David Holmgren, considered one of the founders of the movement. The two were able to start Wandering River Farm with the help of Nathan Vergin, a fellow farmer who used to run Silky Cow Farm nearby. Silky Cow was listed on Foodwaze and was an amazing 100% grass-fed raw milk operation. But Nathan closed down at the end of 2016 and moved away, dispersing his livestock to other farmers in the area, including Kelly and Gabe.
We can’t finish our description of Wandering River Farm without also telling you about their mushrooms, which help express their devotion to permaculture. Using logs from the woods around the property, Kelly and Gabe grow a variety of gourmet mushrooms, including shiitakes, oysters lion’s mane.
Wandering River Farm products are available for purchase through their online farm store, and at the Charlottesville City Market and Nelson County Farmers Market. Please check the Places tab for other places added in the future.