Gary and Lynne Hess grew up as farm kids, 4-H and FFA’ers, and they were fortunate to raise their family the same way. Lynne grew up in a little town called Calverton in northern Virginia surrounded by horses, cattle, and a huge garden. Gary grew up on the farm that we currently operate. It’s been in the family since the late 1950’s.
The home farm operation incorporates a diversified group of crops. There are two cow/calf operations, one purebred Hereford, and the other commercial. Most of the 240 acres is hay and pasture land. A 12,000 square foot greenhouse range is used for producing plants for our retail greenhouse operation.
Both Gary and Lynne have been active in farm organizations over the years. They were state advisors for the Virginia Junior Hereford and Shorthorn Associations and have served on the local petroleum cooperative board, fair board, as 4-H club leaders and countless other committees. It was during the time that daughter Cathy was showing her Hereford cattle that they were called upon to work with the State Fair of Virginia in developing a beef exhibit for the “Young McDonald'” barn. The need for providing a way to educate school children about agriculture and farm life became apparent in the 5 years that they set up displays and hosted 4th graders at the Virginia State fair.
When the fall festival that was held every fall at the retail greenhouse outgrew the facilities, Gary wanted to expand the activities at the farm with a corn maze and school field trips. In 2004, the first maze was cut and “Back Home-on the Farm” was born.
In 2016 the farm hosted nearly 5,000 school children from 9 nearby counties, as well as tourists who visited to enjoy the valley countryside and conquer the maze and other activities. By the end of the season last year, over 25,000 visitors had visited the farm at least once.
In spring of 2007, the Hess family took a step in yet another direction when Gary returned home from an auction in Onancock to announce that he had bought a 30 horse carousel. Nancy and Nelson Hess erected a building that would house the carousel and some of the collections they had accumulated over the years of running a used furniture and antique business.