JK Moving Services, based in Sterling, has partnered with Loudoun Hunger Relief to start a farm.
The company’s latest charitable work is JK Community Farm, which will keep the Wendell family farm near Purcellville in the agriculture business as the family retires after three generations. The farm will grow and harvest crops and livestock to donate, while Loudoun Hunger Relief will function as both a recipient and a central distribution network for other area nonprofits.
JK Moving president, CEO and founder Chuck Kuhn said he had been raising cattle, pigs and hogs before, and when the company’s leadership started talking about their next charitable venture, the farm made sense.
“When we sat down as an executive team to talk about what do we want to do with our charitable giving going forward, it just kind of came together,” Kuhn said.
The farm will start with four acres and more than 16 vegetables, including sweet potatoes, potatoes, lettuce, corn, and kale, and the farm is expected to grow. On top of that, the Kuhn family is donating beef, pork, and venison.
In the first year, JK Community Farm is expected to donate 53,000 pounds of crops along with meat, at an estimate retail value of $235,000.
Sweet potatoes are something Michael Smith, who will manage the farm, is known for. Smith, the founder of Shenandoah Valley Produce, is getting it ready now, plowing and tilling fields and getting seedlings started in greenhouses at the company’s subsidiary Willowgrove Farm in Stephenson.
Smith has been working in sustainable agriculture for five years, distributing through farmers markets, restaurants, and a community-supported agriculture program or CSA. He met Kuhn years ago through a common mentor when Smith was working on an oyster boat. When Kuhn reached out to him about the farm, Smith jumped on board.
“I got really excited about the opportunity of growing chemical-free, nutritionally-dense food for families in need, something I’ve always wanted to do and wanted to get to that point,” Smith said.
The farm will also host education classes for nonprofits about gardening, cooking, and nutrition, and will be a volunteer opportunity for JK Moving employees and other people in the community. It will also serve as workforce training, and as a CSA for employees JK Moving and its sister company CapRelo.
“We are part of this community, and I know that poverty is a very real issue here,” Kuhn said. “I wanted to develop a charitable effort that meets critical community needs in a very tangible way.”
Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tony Howard said the farm exemplifies something Loudoun is lucky to have—business leaders “who understand that the impact of the county on their business is important, but the impact of that company on the community around it is just as important.”
“They are inextricably linked—you can’t have a successful economy and business climate if you don’t have a successful community,” Howard said.
“Locally grown food is keeping the spirit of agriculture alive in Loudoun,” said Loudoun Hunger Relief Executive Director Jennifer Montgomery. “That’s the backbone of what this county was many years ago, and there will be opportunities for increased collaboration.”
In Loudoun, she said, people who are working multiple jobs can be simultaneously food-insecure and making too much to qualify for aide from the government. Last year, her organization provided about 1.2 million pounds of food to more than 8,000 needy Loudouners.
“On the behalf of the many, many people who will be served by this farm for now and many years to come, I thank you,” Montgomery said.