Sierra and John traded in their uniforms for overalls when they separated from the U.S. Navy and created Wonder Valley Farm in Gandeeville, WV. Bringing John back to her home state, they envision incorporating some of the west coast flare they experienced while stationed in California and Washington to their start-up agritourism business.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to stop by and see their beautiful farm. I was greeted by a sign telling me that they were on the hill, but I could call them on a walkie-talkie, no sooner was Sierra meeting me on the four-wheeler to take me up to the planting operation. Up and up we climbed on the four-wheeler, past the hives and beautifully plowed lavender fields to the field they were currently planting, with the help of family and friends. They wasted no time putting me to work on the last few lavender plants that needed put in the ground, and I was eager to get my hands in the dirt since I was late to the planting party.
The satisfaction of a hard days work was evident on everyones faces and so was the hunger, we headed down the hill to have some dinner and they graciously welcomed me to stay. During this time I learned that while they renovate their farm house they have been driving almost daily from Parkersburg to get their farm work done. Their dedication and persistence to their new found farm life is amazing and a testament to the struggles of beginning farming, but also proof that it is possible and a worthwhile venture.
Through some of the amazing connections they’ve made in the agriculture and veteran community, they have planted an acre of lavender, built a robust apiary, and have future plans to incorporate more lavender, forest botanicals, and trendy “sailboat cabin” accommodations for guests to stay. Spanning just over 100-acres, they also hope to host tours, festivals, and retreats. John is still a member of the Navy Reserve, and Sierra substitute teaches for Jackson County; but their primary focus is building Wonder Valley Farm into a sustainable, diverse, and relaxing agritourist destination in West Virginia. Follow their adventure at www.facebook.com/wondervalleyfarm.