Young Farmers Group Tours Highland

Thousands of visitors streamed into Highland County this past weekend to attend the Maple Festival and visit the various sugar camps and farms. However, a group of special visitors made the trip a week earlier, and were treated to a sneak preview without having to fight the traffic and crowds.

Amy Halterman Johnson is a Highland native now living in Bedford County. Her husband W.P. Johnson is the chairman of the Bedford County Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers group. Virginia Farm Bureau supports these groups throughout the state, which support agriculture through production, education, promotion, advocacy and leadership for members aged 18 -35.

Ms. Halterman explained the idea behind the visit, and the locations the group visited.

“I work on recruiting and activities for the group, so we planned a farm tour to Highland County today, to see different types of agriculture that we don’t see where we come from. We went to Puffenbarger’s Sugar Camp, Allegheny Meats, the Virginia Fish Hatchery, and Halterman Turkey Farms, and we’re going to be visiting Church Hill Produce this afternoon.”

“They have enjoyed it, they really like the scenery, and I think they all enjoyed Puffenbarger’s sugar orchard, and then, I think the kids really enjoyed the fish hatchery and getting to feed the fish.”

Several group members gave their impressions of the area.

“My name is Beth Bays, I’m the secretary of the Young Farmers. It’s just gorgeous – it’s absolutely beautiful. I didn’t know this state had anything that looked like this. The sugar camp, that was neat, I’ve never seen anything like that, and then we went to the turkey house, and again, had never been on any kind of poultry operations, so it was really, really interesting.”

“I’m Morgan Meador, and I came with the Bedford County Young Farmers, just to tour the county. I attend Virginia Tech, and I’m majoring in agribusiness. I like it – it’s quite the variety of agricultural enterprises.”

“My names’s Matt Bumgardner, I’m a member of the Young Farmer group in Bedford County. I’m along today to tour these farms and I like to go see what other people are doing, it’s really neat to see other agriculture being done – see how everybody else does it. It was very exciting. We toured quite a few different operations, really have enjoyed it.”

While traffic and crowds were not an issue, the group was faced with battling the snow and road conditions left from previous storms, which assured they received the true Highland County experience.

“I think when we got to the turkey farm, I think that was our exciting part of the day. You know, snowy roads, and going up the road, and we stopped our vehicle, and our driver got out to go help somebody, and while he was out, the vehicle took off on it’s own, sliding back down the hill, so that’s been our roller coaster ride of the day, so we really got excitement here that we couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.”

The group was sure they would be return guests.

“Absolutely – and next time I’m going to bring my fly-rod. I fly fish – every little creek and river we pass, I think man!”

“I think they will – the county has a lot of neat things to offer, and we really appreciate Highland County having us here.”


Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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