Editor: In 2018 we made a pact as siblings to move to Rockland, our family-owned farm—we called it #Rockland 2020. Rockland has been in our family for generations, we grew up visiting our grandparents here, so it is sacred ground to us.
As two service industry veterans, working hard and working with people is not foreign to us. However, we could not anticipate the challenges this new venture would bring when we committed to help our parents and family take care of the property. Since our move towards the end of 2019, we’ve witnessed the White’s Ferry Saga. We’ve been here giving our input, but up until now have remained mostly invisible.
Sage has started a small sustainable flower farm, Far Bungalow Farm, that grows native species and sells to florists and residents in the area. Abby raises chickens, runs two campsites on the property and works in NoVa’s craft beverage industry, promoting locally sourced ingredients. In our “free time” we grow vegetables, forage, weave, cook, drink beer, and you better believe we watched a bunch of dumb TV during the winter nights of 2020 lockdown.
We feel that we are stewards to Rockland. Acknowledging our privilege, we feel it’s our responsibility to pay forward this incredible blessing. Our Rockland 2020 plan was to work with our family to make the farm a shared space that produces goods that everyone can enjoy, repay our debts to those enslaved on the property, and preserve the beauty and health of the Potomac and Piedmont.
We have grown up with White’s Ferry, seen it evolve, enjoyed riding it, and appreciated watching it’s back and forth. We know that Whites Ferry is important to Virginia and Maryland residents.
Rockland farm is asking to be paid fair rent from White’s Ferry owners for the ongoing use of our land—just 50 cents per vehicle so that we can sustain our family business and farm. This is land that could be used for lots of other things, but we love that it’s been used as such a historic and cherished utility.
It’s been discouraging and confusing for us to witness such opposition to the basic principle of paying rent for the use of property. We’ve watched as our neighbors’ lose their family farms while predatory business people swoop in and pay what a farmer has no choice but to accept. We don’t want that to happen to Rockland.
There are so many layers to this story, more than can be expressed in any one letter or article, so, we ask you all to get acquainted with the full story behind the Whites Ferry landing and to get to know us—the millennial generation at Historic Rockland Farm with our own dreams and plans for its future.
Sage and Abby Devlin