In 1986, Philip and Charlotte Hanes began a project to protect farmland in Alleghany County, NC and Grayson County, VA — the area where their farm, River Ridge Land and Cattle Company (RRLCC), is located. The Hanes’ vision of conservation led them to set up River Ridge as a model for sustainability and restorative farming for interested landowners.
Today River Ridge Land and Cattle Company is comprised of 1,500 acres nestled along the New River in the mountains of Grayson County, Virginia. Most of the property is under a perpetual conservation easement that protects the local land from commercial development and ensures the protection of the New River. Our farm philosophy is to care for the land while being sustainable and profitable for all the right reasons.
We believe healthy cows produce healthier beef. That's why all cattle on River Ridge are grass-fed and raised without growth-enhancing hormones and antibiotics. River Ridge livestock graze lush pastures, drink clean water, and consume the natural minerals they need. The result is naturally lean beef and lamb that has true taste. River Ridge supplies this quality beef to Grayson Natural Farms.
In 2015 River Ridge expanded its scope by converting a 10-acre river bottom hayfield into a commercial berry patch. The organic berry operation has surpassed even our own vision. Today the diverse field includes raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and kiwi berries — all grown using regenerative farming methods that sustain the soil and benefit farm ecology.
We continued our mission of conservation in the Spring of 2018 when we introduced St. Croix sheep into our pastures. River Ridge completed its first breeding season in April 2020 with the arrival of 52 healthy lambs from 28 ewes.
Charlotte Metz Hanes is president and CEO of River Ridge Land and Cattle Company. Before she and her late husband, Philip Hanes, purchased land in Grayson County, they were heavily involved with the arts, politics, and conservation on a national level.
Charlotte is passionate about the need for local farms to sustain healthy communities. She is a strong advocate for proper land stewardship, conservation easements, whole farm planning, and sustainable farming methods that protect and sustain local farms and the natural resources on which we all depend.
Charlotte Hanes graduated from East Carolina University. She is a board member of Rachel’s Network and a member of Rachel’s Network Agriculture and Environment Learning Circle. Charlotte travels the country speaking about sustainable farming and female entrepreneurship and land ownership.
Brantley joined River Ridge in 2008. He shares Charlotte’s vision for a scalable yet ecologically sustainable operation. A typical day for Brantley? “The only thing typical about a day on the farm is that it’s unpredictable.” Brantley’s primary responsibilities are the management of all divisions including the land, leases, livestock, employees, and oversight of facilities (construction, repairs, and resourceful inventions).
Brantley recently completed the VALOR program at Virginia Tech in 2020. He also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and an Extension Education Master's from the University of Florida. He is committed to raising cattle the right way, in part because, “I’m feeding this to my children, too.” He’s driven by a desire to make farming more sustainable — for the land and for the farmers who tend it.
Brantley lives on the farm with his wife and children.
Jay Dunbar manages the River Ridge berry operation and the River Ridge Organics brand. In addition to his work on the farm, he is a member of Grayson Landcare, a local community and agriculture nonprofit. He also serves as an advisor to the Virginia Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Coalition. In his spare time he enjoys writing and playing music, hunting mushrooms, and tending his home garden.
Whitney Ivey is a graduate of Western Kentucky University with a degree in Animal Science and Agriculture. She attended Drake University Law School in Des Moines Iowa with a particular interest in Agriculture Law. After Graduating with her Law Degree and a Certificate in Food and Agriculture Law and Public Service, she and her husband Brantley moved to River Ridge Farm. She is a founding partner of Adams & Ivey, PLLC law firm. In addition to private practice, Whitney serves as the attorney for the Town of Sparta, is on the board of the local hospital, and is actively involved with the American Agricultural Law Association and the North Carolina Bar Association Real Estate Section.
In her spare time Whitney helps her Brantley at the farm, raising cattle, horses, berries, and their kids.