Last winter, Hunter Haynes and Ryan Sullivan embarked on a road trip with the money they had earned farming for nine months of the year. It was the fitting outcome to their name: Snowbirds, the designation for people who flock south during the winter.
Haynes and Sullivan chose the name for their farm this because when they left their “indoor” jobs— “that were not well-suited for us,” they said —they aspired to work nine months of the year so they could travel for the rest. Farming was perfect, Haynes explains. “[We could] do something we were passionate about and enjoy being outside and working together,” he says. “Working outside with our hands, growing great food.”
Snowbird Farm is located in Orange County, Virginia, and boasts chemical-free produce. Haynes emphasizes to me that everything is certified naturally grown, using organic feeds and organic compost, and with no petroleum fertilizer or insecticide. This aspect was central to the farms mission from the start.
Among other crops, Snowbird Farms grows wheatgrass, which tastes just like the name sounds (some say like a freshly mowed lawn, others say more like green tea) but is also as healthy for you as the name would suggest. Some people —including celebrities— take wheatgrass shots. But most relevant to Snowbird, wheatgrass is also put in juice.
For Haynes and Sullivan, a foray into growing wheatgrass began by accident. They started supplying the crop to a local juice bar, and realized it was not just popular but offered immense benefits. So, they continued growing it.
For Haynes, ultimately the most rewarding part of farming is meeting the people who will be eating his products. The farm sells produce to restaurants and markets in the area, including to Capitol Hill’s Eastern Market.
Haynes says customer interaction is one of the best parts of the job. “We really enjoy interacting with the customers and just letting them know a bit about us and our farm.” He says that customers are often attracted to their farm for being natural and all grown by them.
“It’s really nice that [customers] can talk to the farmer that actually grows the product that they’re selling,” Haynes notes.
And nice that the farmers meet the people who live on what they grow.