Bruce and Katherine Johnson took a break on a recent weekend from the hard work of raising cattle and sheep. For a few hours, they threw a party, inviting their customers and guests to see what they do and taste the fruits of their labor.
The Johnsons have operated Dragonfly Farms on Ellisville Drive for two years since they relocated here from Beaverdam in Hanover County. On this recent Saturday, friends, supporters and others curious about the farm participated in a 5K and 10K run, toured the property and enjoyed a delicious meal on a picturesque hilltop outside a barn.
“It was mainly just for fun, but also to let people know what we were doing,” Bruce Johnson said. “We had hoped to draw 100 people and we ended up with closer to 170.”
What drew some who attended is the fact the Johnsons sell their meats directly to consumers at stores like Nourish in the town of Louisa and Ashland Meat Company. The latter business is co-owned by the Johnsons and a fellow farmer from Hanover.
Dragonfly is interesting not only because the beef and lamb are locally produced and sold. The farmers like to show off their practice of rotational grazing, which they say is better for the environment and provides better nutrition for their cattle.
The Johnsons’ cattle are moved frequently from one pasture to another, so the plants and soil in each area have time to recover.
“We like to get the knowledge out to the public that it pulls carbon out of the atmosphere and sequesters it in the soil,” Johnson said. “Beef gets a big target on its back for contributing to climate problems, but that’s not completely accurate. The type of grazing we do can be part of the solution.”
The Johnsons’ method drew the attention of Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, who stopped by the farm earlier this fall on a tour of several local agricultural businesses. She chairs a committee on agriculture in the U.S. House of Representatives.