Environmentally, safe, free-range practices at Junco Hill Farm
Rebecca Snyder, owner of Junco Hill Farm, moved to Warrenton in 2010. She grew up near Toronto, Ontario, Canada on a farm which was predominantly a cow and calf operation, but also grew crops: corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay. “Much of the food we ate every day was grown on the farm — especially the fruits and vegetables from my dad’s incredible garden. For us, that was just normal, standard fare. My mum was an incredible cook and she also canned, froze, and dried a lot of what we grew,” Snyder shared.
“Life as a youngster on the farm didn’t always sit well with me, and at the age of 17, I left home with typical 17-year-old dramatic flair, insisting that I would never return to the agricultural lifestyle. Ever. Ah, teenage-hood,” recalled Snyder.
She and her family moved to Warrenton to enjoy military retirement, but Snyder went through a divorce and was left caring for a 60-acre parcel of land on her own. “My responsibilities were for my three children and I had no clear way of how to make a living in Warrenton,” remembered Snyder. “I didn’t know a soul here, since we had just moved to the area. My graduate degree in anthropology didn’t seem to offer many options here in Fauquier County.”
Although she didn’t embark on a path to own and operate a farm, it just happened. During the difficult year after her divorce, Snyder became determined to find a way to make things work for her and her family. “I decided something needed to be done, and I took stock of what I had. I had a really run-down mess of a farm, but I had a strong desire to raise my children in a rural setting, despite my personal history,” described Snyder.
Junco Hill Farm is not just about turkeys though. Snyder loves and works her three dogs: Echo (age 1), Tzofi (age 5), and Lambert (age 15). These adorable canines are not only part of the family, they are truly part of the farming effort. “Echo and Tzofi are our livestock guardian dogs, LGDs for short. They make it possible to raise chickens, guineas and turkeys because they keep the foxes and coyotes away. They are awesome employees,” Snyder shared. Guinea hens living there also serve a purpose — they eat many of the ticks in the pastures, reducing or eliminating the pest without using chemicals. Additionally, Snyder has noted that the guineas serve as a another alert system for the livestock at times as they produce a tremendous amount of noise if a predator comes calling.
Junco Hill’s livestock now includes pigs, cattle, chickens, goats, and, of course, turkeys. Most of her livestock is used to provide the organic meats for her other business, SOBO Mobile, a food truck that she and Bo Brice own and operate together. “When I met Mr. Bo six years ago, he shared with me his dream to have a food truck. I realized that with my farm, his dream, and his mom’s amazing Mexican recipes, we could create something pretty unique.”
This is the dream Snyder and Mr. Bo have pursued ever since. Their farm-raised food is prepared and cooked in the commissary kitchen on site and is served on their food truck. According to Snyder “it is a ton of hard work, and a lot of fun. She shared that the recent addition of the goats will enable them to explore cheese making and she would “dearly love to get a hoop-house [a type of domed greenhouse] up and running to provide herbs and veggies for our truck.”
Snyder enjoys her work at the farm and on the food truck. She admitted she often discusses the joy of knowing exactly where her food comes from, from the moment of birth to the moment it is cooked and eaten. “Maybe it’s cliche, but in this case, knowledge really is power! Although every day is crazy, every day is different. That’s part of what attracts me to being on the farm — it fits nicely into my ADD,” Snyder said.
Reserve Your Turkey