Farming is Arthur’s passion

Published 9:14 am Thursday, March 9, 2017

Will Arthur is part of the fifth generation of his family who have cared for Kettlestick Farm in Kenbridge. He tends to his farm on top of his full-time work, hoping one day the 88-acre farm will become financially sustainable.

His hope is to do this through agrotourism, a practice that involves any agriculturally based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch.

“Agrotourism, I think, is definitely a niche that (Southside) Virginia can fill,” Arthur said.

Arthur said services that he provides guests who want to visit the small farm are slowly increasing, citing he doesn’t want to incur tremendous debt.

Arthur provides a campsite for $40 per night for a full hookup, $35 per night for water and electric services and $20 per night for primitive sites.

He also runs a bed and breakfast that includes two rooms, for which he charges $80 per night.

According to the Kettlestick Farms website, Arthur also provides activities including hayrides, egg gathering, gardening and feeding.

Arthur has cows on his farm, and is looking into getting chickens and pigs to raise. The farm includes an orchard, which consists of a variety of fruit trees. He also cuts hay and raises a garden

In addition, he also provides farm tours for visitors — $10 for an unguided tour package, $15 for a half-day tour package and $30 for a full day tour package. Arthur said he thought it was important for people to see where their food comes from because there’s not a lot of opportunity for people to do so.

“Only in the last couple of centuries have we started making this kind of disconnect that has its benefits. Obviously you can go to Walmart and get a honey ham and you don’t have to do any of the work,” Arthur said. “At the same time, you lose something out of that, you know? I have kind of a melancholy kind of feeling about some of that.”
Arthur said his family has owned the farm since the late 1870s. He said his great-great grandfather bought the land for $1 an acre.

Arthur called his work on the farm a “passion project,” having watched family members tend the land from a young age.

When Arthur is not tending to the farm, he works full-time designing interpretive signs and markers for state parks.

Arthur, 26, said he’ll take care of the land until he’s physically unable to do so.
“There’s a whole lot of stuff now that needs to be done, that’s kind of just the nature of it,” he said. “It’s a constant racket because you’re always just trying to get one step ahead, because you know tomorrow something’s going to happen and you’re going to get dragged two steps back,” Arthur said. “It’s like you’re fighting the earth from taking it back and that’s what it is, if it lasts my whole lifetime, that’ll probably be long enough.”