Farming in fear

In 2006, Martha Boneta bought a tattered, two hundred year-old farm in Paris, Virginia on 64 beautiful acres about an hour West of Washington DC.

Liberty Farm was the realization of Martha’s childhood dream to become a working farmer and bring homegrown, organic produce to her community. After two years renovating the property, she planted crops and brought livestock to the farm. There are flocks of free range chickens, guinea hens, ducks, geese, turkeys, and emus; a herd of goats and sheep, an alpaca, two cows, a pony, and a fat pig named Oliver.

Martha also keeps bees and sells the honey, along with handmade goats milk soaps, wool, and fresh eggs from her farmhouse.

But bureaucracy and the potential abuse of power threaten to put Liberty Farm out of business.

Over the past two decades, Fauquier County has built a reputation in Virginia for being run by a connected web of politicians and local officials aligned with an environmental group and powerful landowners dedicated to preventing commercial activity and development in the area.

And Martha Boneta has been at the center of it all.

Farming in Fear tracks the nearly 10-year ordeal Martha has endured just to earn a living in spite of corrupt local ordinances, abusive management of her conservation easement, and personal attacks through the introduction of an amendment to Virginia’s Right to Farm Act called the Boneta Bill, designed to protect small farmers so that what happened to Martha never happens again.

Advertisements