A gem of green space like Crooked Run Orchard should be cherished and protected by its local elected officials, but unless more citizens and business owners of Purcellville, VA rally to Sam and Uta Brown’s cause, they are fighting an uphill battle against powerful forces that desire their land for development. It is my hope that citizens of both parties can come together to help Sam and Uta Brown of Crooked Run Orchard in Purcellville whose land and business are under attack by town officials who seem hell bent on destroying the twenty five year old orchard on historic farmland. For the left, this is an issue of environmental impact and access to green spaces. For the right, this is an issue of personal property and business owners rights against entrenched government power. For the Browns, it is simply a matter of survival.
Crooked Run Orchard contains acres of pick-your-own apples, peaches, plums, raspberries, blackberries and pumpkins, but seven acres of the Brown’s land have already been condemned by the town through eminent domain for construction of a road that will cut the land in two, destroying mature apple and priceless elder boxwood trees. For the last many years, the Browns have stoically bore the time and cost of litigation against the full might of the town’s legal assault, but allies are now gathering in support for the besieged orchard led by Stephen Mackey of Notaviva Vineyards.
Starting with a press awareness event on July 17th, Mackey interviewed the Browns for a video presentation of Crooked Run’s plight. While none of the invited Purcellville town officials were present, many of the press and bloggers stayed for a stroll into the orchard to pick their fill. Not only is Mackey helping to promote Crooked Run’s legal fund, but he’s also harvesting a small mountain of the Browns’s pesticide free blackberries for use in a Notaviva blackberry wine.
Across the country, demand for fresh, local food is growing as knowledge spreads about the health consequences and environmental impact of industrial agriculture and processed food. At the same time, suburban sprawl and big box stores are eating up farmland at an alarming rate in pastoral Loudoun County, VA.
Please spread the word about the situation at Crooked Run Orchard, especially if you have any connections in the Purcellville, Loudoun County or Virginia State governments who may be able to help the Browns though actions or advice.