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Agriculture in Washington County is a Labor of Love

Young farmers take pride in continuing family businesses.

By Bill Lewis on July 31, 2020

Courtesy of Sullivan Creek Ranch

There’s an old saying that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.vThat’s the case for young farmers in Washington County who can’t imagine any other career.

“I grew up on a farm and have always wanted to continue the profession and lifestyle as a career. The most attractive part to me is the freedom to make my own schedule and do something that I love every day,†says Will Copenhaver, who raises cattle on his Washington County farm and is also known for growing sunflowers.

“Whenever I was able to transition from operating my lawn care business full time to being on the farm mostly full time, I felt like I went from working every day to truly enjoying what I was doing every day,†he says.

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First in the World

Rena Johnson is happily committed to operating Highland Dairy in Glade Spring. The third-generation family farm invested in a new, state-of-the-art milking parlor that will keep it at the forefront of the industry for years.

Johnson invested in equipment developed by Sweden-based DeLaval, a global provider of dairy technology. Highland Dairy became the first farm in the world to use the system commercially, and a film crew for the company traveled to the United States to document the launch.

The new parlor is efficient and more comfortable for the cows, Johnson says.

“The cows really love the barn, and that tickles me to see them in there,†she says.

The Sky is the Limit at the Virginia Highlands Airport

A Lifestyle, Not a Job

For Adam Wilson, a career in agriculture is not only a job, it’s a lifestyle. He raises cattle on his Washington County farm.

“To me the most attractive part about working in ag is being able to be outside and do different things every day. Although the days and weeks can be long, it is rewarding to do something you can see, from a calf growing from birth and into a yearling to a fence that is built at the end of the day,†he says. “It also provides me independence to choose what tasks to do every day. As far as the lifestyle, it is a good one. It allows me to work with friends and family every day, and the ag community is a pretty tight-knit group.”

If you’d like to learn more about the Washington County area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Washington County

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