The Carrot Top Farm was established in 2011 and is located in Ruther Glen, Virginia, just outside of Richmond and is run by husband and wife, Kevin and Mary Langhorne McManus Our family's goal is to offer delicious products you can't easily find in Richmond and DC area markets.
How we began ...
I have been interested in food and where it comes from since my late teens. I grew up eating home-cooked meals every night and with the knowledge that if it came in a box, it wasn't real food. I was a vegetarian for about 13 years and when I made that decision it was based on wanting to know what I was eating, where it came from, and how it was treated. I can honestly say that two books changed my life, The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan was the first. If you haven't read it you should. It is an incredible journey into what we eat every day. The second book was Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. This was the real game changer – the author and her family chronicle their experience living off the land for a full year, only eating what they grew or could trade with friends and neighbors. This book showed me that it could be done, that I could raise my children and live in a more simple way, a way without such a heavy reliance on material goods. I could live a life where hand to mouth is something I aspire to, not something to avoid.
We began the serious discussion of starting a farm several years ago. My husband and I were dissatisfied living in and around a big city, especially as our family grew. We knew that we wanted more for them. For years I had been saying that I want a place where I can open my back door and let my kids out to play -- without worrying about space, pollution and safety. We had been in New Jersey for six years (and in NYC for countless years before) and we were growing increasingly eager for change. Kevin was at home raising our two children and I was commuting to a full time job in Manhattan. We wanted more and less-- more time together, more space and less traffic, dirt and construction.
I'll skim over the part where my entire family searched for the right property. It took almost two years and just about every relative. The short version is, we needed land that would work for our crops with a house I could move my family into and enough land so my parents could retire on the farm. See, that's the other crucial piece to this puzzle. My parents have been incredibly patient and generous facilitating this change for all of us and over the next year they will be building their retirement home on the property.
That puts us to the move -- it was a slow decision but that's why it worked. We knew it was a total life change and we took the time to make sure it was what everyone wanted. It wasn't easy to give up an entire adult life of having lived in NYC, but we were ready. We found an incredible 26 acres in Virginia right between Richmond and Fredericksburg. The previous owner had used it as a horse farm. It has great little house and a bigger yard than we’d ever imagined.
We have a million decisions in front of us but I'm excited about making every one of them.