Life Outside Spring 2018 - 40

BY ERIC J. WALLACE | PHOTOS BY MARY SAELENS
ALONG SCENIC VA. 42 just outside of Churchville,
JOYS OF THE GARDEN
Clockwise from top:
Dancing Star's environs and
greenhouse are impressive
even from the road.
More than 1,500 fall-crop
seedlings thrive in outdoor
containers.
Blosser and his family also
raise free-range ducks.
Sunflowers planted on the
back side of the property sell
at the local farmers market
and provide great vibes.

40

the landscape has that rolling, Shenandoah Valley
feel: Expanses of bright green cow pastures watched
over by hilly stands of forests peppered with decrepit
hay barns and the occasional colonial red-brick or
white-washed farmhouse.
Only then, a little off the road on the left-
ZANG!-like some kind of hippified moon-station,
there's Dancing Star Farm. At four compact acres,
the produce farm is fast earning a reputation among
the small-scale agricultural community as one of
the most innovative, sustainable, and envelopepushing establishments in the region.
Pulling into the driveway, I cruise past a small
pyramid of hops; rectangular plots of vegetables
bursting from perfect rows of black plastic; what
looks to be a series of very small ponds; numerous
high mounds covered in herbs and edible plants;
a pavilion with a huge clay oven; a shed/barnlooking thing; some plastic hoop-houses; and,
yes, a moveable pen replete with two potbellied
pigs. Fruiting trees, shrubs, and bushes abound.
Blossoming flowers-attractors of pests and
pollinators alike-are everywhere interspersed...
I park before the big deck abutting the small,
900-square-foot cabin where DSF owner, Ryan
Blosser, lives with his wife and two children. To my
left, there's a long strip of locust saplings (to fuel
the specialty woodstove) and a patch of (aesthetic)
sunflowers thriving in the drainage field. The house

Spring 2018 \\ LifeOutside Magazine

is surrounded by mulched beds exploding with
edible and medicinal herbs.
I'm struck by how things appear chaotic and
yet, upon second glance, are so obviously lovingly
planned.
"TO UNDERSTAND THE FARM you have to think of

it as an ecosystem," says Blosser. "Everything works
together and everything has a purpose. It's just like
nature-there's a complex web of relationships,
with each component affecting everything else."
We're sitting in the kitchen at a café table sipping
tea made from reishi mushrooms foraged from
nearby Highland, West Virginia. With a dash of
turmeric, the tea is bold, earthy and exquisitely
calming.
"When my wife and I bought this place, we
were looking to create a template for what was
agriculturally possible in this area," he continues. "We
didn't buy the perfect piece of land. We purposefully
chose a plot along the road beside a factory-farming
operation. We wanted to be highly visible, restore
the site, and, in doing so, prove that sustainable
agriculture is not only possible in this region, but
also economically viable."
While the kind-eyed and dreadlocked 40-yearold certainly cuts a benign enough impression,
concerning his ambitiousness, it helps to keep
in mind that at 6-foot-2-inches, he played NCAA
Division I basketball on a full-ride scholarship at



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Life Outside Spring 2018

Life Outside Spring 2018 - Cover1
Life Outside Spring 2018 - Cover2
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 3
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 4
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 5
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 6
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 7
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 8
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 9
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 10
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 11
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 12
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 13
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 14
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 15
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 16
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 17
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 18
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 19
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 20
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 21
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 22
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 23
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 24
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 25
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 26
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 27
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 28
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 29
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 30
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 31
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 32
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 33
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 34
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 35
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 36
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 37
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 38
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 39
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 40
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 41
Life Outside Spring 2018 - 42
Life Outside Spring 2018 - Cover3
Life Outside Spring 2018 - Cover4
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/Life_Outside_Spring_2019
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/Life_Outside_Fall_2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/Life_Outside_Summer_2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/Life_Outside_Spring_2018
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/leisure/Life_Outside_Fall_2017
http://www.nxtbookMEDIA.com