A History of Sustainability
In 1986, Philip and Charlotte Hanes began a project to protect farmland in Alleghany County, NC and Grayson County, VA — the area where the Hanes' farm, River Ridge Land and Cattle Company (RRLCC), is located. Their goal was to preserve as much of the land as possible between where the New River enters Virginia and where it returns to North Carolina. The hope was—and still is—to keep the land as farms or forests, preserve the viewshed, keep development back from the river, and maintain or improve the water quality.
The Hanes realized that for farmers to be able to keep their farms while under a conservation easement, they would need to be more profitable. Because of this, the Hanes asked the county agent, Danny Boyer, about farming practices and economics. His answer led them to New Zealand, where they spent three weeks learning from five profitable farm families.
When the Hanes returned to the states, they set up River Ridge as a model farm with a mission to show area farmers new ways to sustainably cut the workload and make a profit. Virginia Tech and North Carolina State Universities were initially involved in this model.
Over time, the Hanes’ project brought together ranchers, farmers, landowners, and concerned citizens from Southwest Virginia and bordering North Carolina counties, in addition to professionals from universities, other countries, and various agencies to work on the conservation initiative. By 2005, the initiative had spawned an organization, Grayson LandCare — modeled after the grassroots movement which began in Australia.
Throughout the course of our history, we at River Ridge have found certain factors greatly affect the equation of sustainability, so we practice these as part of our model.
Click on a factor below to learn more.