As conversations swirl about a potential Vinestock, I have a simple proposal for you: Lets have a Vinemeet at my small farm over the 4th of July holiday next year, 2008. I have thought about a Vinemeet here since last year but personal health problems got in my way. By the 4th of July, I should be back 100%, okay, at least 90%. And that is good enough!
About this Region
Our farm lies pretty much at the intersection of interstates 77 and 81. We are about an hour and a half from Roanoke and Bristol, Virginia and the same from Winston Salem, North Carolina. We are about three hours from the Raleigh-Durham area and five hours from Dulles IAP and about the same from Charlotte. The area is generally described as being in the New River Valley. We are about 20 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway and about 40 miles from Blacksburg. This area remains dominated by agricultural activities but relies heavily on tourism so there are many activities in the region. One set of our friends operate the Ft. Chiswell Animal Park - a fun adventure for folks of all ages. Another set of friends operate West Wind Farm, Vineyard and Winery. The Animal Park is about two miles away and the Vineyard about 1/2 mile.
About Our Farm
Rhonda (normally called my "Missus") and I believe that we can offer Newsviners a unique opportunity to get together in a beautiful rural setting. We have a small 13-acre farm in southwest Virginia on which we grow flowers for folks to cut,kind of like a pick-your-own fruit or vegetable farm, only flowers. About half of the farm is wooded and the other half is maintained as part of our home and our flower business. We also have some farm critters: Five geese; About thirty chickens; A Shetland sheep, About 100 white homing pigeons, and four outdoor cats. Nature provides a great variety of birds and other wildlife. And by July, our 50-odd large flowerbeds are in full bloom and beautiful!
In addition to the photos I posted with this article, you can see other farm photos on our website. As you can see from the photos, we have several amenities that would lend themselves to a variety of Vinemeet activities. To the side of a small house (a brides changing house) we built an 18' x 16' deck with a pergola. We have a nice-sized gazebo with built-in benches. At the end of a five-trellis bride's walk are two built-in benches that will easily hold 40 people. I can easily imagine any of these being the site of discussions, readings, etc. We also have a large barn that can be used as well. We have a small pond stocked with catfish and bluegill.
Places to Stay
At the farm, we have many great places to pitch a tent and the area has quite a few motels that offer reasonable rates. The New River Trail State Park is only a few miles away along the New River and offers camping and other activities.
What I Propose We Do at this Vinemeet
I would like to have a very mini-version of Celestina's Vinestock proposal, very, very mini. An opportunity for those of us that enjoy Newsvine to meet each other and to have both fun and serious discussions. An opportunity for us to put real faces to Newsvine avatars and to get a sense of the people behind the articles, seeds and comments. And time to just have fun! Eat, drink and make merry!
The 4th of July is on a Friday this coming year, so I suggest we have our primary activities on Saturday, the 5th. You will have an open invitation to the farm for whenever you get here, be it the 3rd, 4th or 5th. I will also make an effort to have some live music by a friend and her neer-do-well fellow pickers and singers. While they can play a variety of music, they sing and play great mountain ballads. (As we proved last New Year's, you can drink to mountain ballads as easily as any other variety - for some of you, maybe more easily!)
So there it is! A Vinemeet out in the southwest Virginia countryside. July 4th weekend, 2008. What do you think about it? I welcome your suggestions.