Virginia Gold Orchard's Right to Farm Legal Fund

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Since 2011 we have been forced to defend ourselves against a nuisance lawsuit.  

The suit, filed by a neighbor, concerns the orchard’s hedgerow—a border of closely spaced shrubs and trees intended to protect the orchard’s approximately 2,000 pear trees and other crops from local deer.  

The hedgerow at Virginia Gold Orchard

This lawsuit has been a source of emotional and financial stress for our family for several years.

We were therefore relieved when the lawsuit went to trial this summer and the Court ruled entirely in favor of Virginia Gold Orchard, dismissing all complaints.

We successfully argued that the planting of the hedgerow was covered under Virginia's Right to Farm Act, a law that protects farmers who use accepted and standard farming practices against nuisance lawsuits.  

Because of this argument and its outcome, our case is already considered a landmark case upholding a farmer’s rights to farm their property.

In the course of defending our rights, Virginia Gold Orchard has incurred several tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.  While these expenses were justified in light of the ongoing legal threat, this debt will take many years for our family to pay off and significantly jeopardizes the future financial health of the orchard.

We are asking supporters and friends of the Virginia Gold Orchard to please consider making a contribution to help us raise the money to pay these fees.  


Support the Right to Farm Legal Fund

We are also appealing to our fellow farmers and others in the community who support a farmer's right to earn a living from their land without the threat of unjustified nuisance lawsuits.

Please consider contributing whatever amount you can afford.  Even a small amount will help guarantee the future financial health of Virginia Gold Orchard!

Thank you for your support and please visit us at the orchard this fall! 

About the Fund

100% of the money contributed to the Right to Farm Legal Fund will be used to pay the legal fees associated with this case.

As a thank you for your support, we are pleased to offer packet(s) of Rosa Rugosa ("Korean Rose") seeds for online contributions starting at $10, and coupons for purchases at the Orchard for contributions of $50 or more.

About the Hedgerow at Virginia Gold Orchard

The Virginia Gold Orchard hedgerow at a distance

A hedgerow is a “living fence”, consisting of closely spaced shrubs and tree species, planted to protect and mark the boundary of an area.  In contrast to common wood or wire fences which require maintenance, usually by way of chemical sprays, a hedgerow is made of living, breathing plants and trees that remove CO2 and release oxygen.

Our hedgerow is comprised of flowering wild roses (over 2,000 bushes), wild grapes, trumpet vines, honeysuckle, euonymus, and pear tree root stock. 

The main function of our hedgerow is to prevent local deer from entering our orchard, thereby protecting our approximately 2,000 pear trees and other crops. Unlike tall fences that deer can simply jump over, the thick brush is extremely difficult for deer to pass through.  In addition, the flowers in the hedgerow attract a variety of nesting and migratory birds, including natural insect eaters. 

Our hedgerow was planted with the assistance and support of the local USDA personnel and the VA Department of Forestry under the USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

The hedgerow has been an overwhelmingly positive addition to our farm, and one we feel is critical to the ongoing protection of our crops.

About "Right to Farm" Laws

"Right to farm" laws in the United States (sometimes called nuisance laws) deny nuisance suits against farmers who use accepted and standard farming practices.  

Virginia’s own such law states:

“No agricultural operation or any of its appurtenances shall be or become a nuisance, private or public, if such operations are conducted in accordance with existing best management practices and comply with existing laws and regulations of the Commonwealth.”