This feature on Spring House Farm is part the #LoudounPossible Success Story series compiled in celebration of Loudoun Small Business Week 2022. For more information on the week’s festivities, plus other engaging stories of sustainable business growth, please visit LoudounSmallBiz.org.
Despite being one of humanity’s oldest professions, farming is always improving its best practices, driven by the innovative minds who dare to try something new. That’s especially true at Spring House Farm, located in the fertile foothills of Loudoun County, where Andrew Crush and his family raise pork, beef, lamb, goats, poultry, honey – and the bar on farming.
“My philosophy is to leave the earth in a better place from when I arrived,” Crush said. “I am extremely passionate about adhering to the healthiest practices for our animals and land.
“By doing this, we can help restore our land so that my family, and many others, can benefit from all that it provides both now and for years to come.”
There’s a lot of action behind that philosophy, which has made Crush a thought leader in the farming world. The Progressive Farmer Magazine, the country’s largest circulation farm magazine, selected Crush as one of America’s five best young farmers in 2016.
“Our mission is to operate a financially solvent, regenerative, ecologically friendly farm dedicated to providing the finest foods that our earth can naturally produce,” Crush said. “We want to make every bit of the environment that the animal lives in to be as low-stress as possible.
“Animals are meant to be outdoors. We rotate our animals to allow them to forage naturally, then give the land time to rest. This raises healthy animals and puts nutrients back into the soil.”
In practice, that can mean rotating the herds through sections of the property multiple times per day, as needed.
“With his innovative farming practices and top-flight marketing strategy, Andrew is a role model for the farming industry,” magazine Editor-in-Chief Gregg Hillyer wrote at the time. “We are fortunate to have producers such as Andrew moving into leadership roles both in their communities and into the agricultural industry.”
And Loudoun County is fortunate to have him.
Crush moved to Lovettsville in 2000, starting Spring House Farm with his wife, Liz, in 2004 and raising their two children along the way. While much has changed about Loudoun, the key ingredients for farming success stay the same: good weather, good soil, good business climate, and ready access to customers.
“We didn’t inherit anything and have purchased or leased all of our current farms,” Crush said. “We believe Loudoun to be a great area to farm and start a business as it has a diverse group of people from various cultures who greatly value quality food and products.”
Loudoun has a rich agricultural tradition that predates the birth of America, one that continues to fuel the growth of the mid-Atlantic region to this day. In addition to selling to high-end restaurants throughout the metro D.C. area, Spring House Farm sells directly to consumers through on-site sales, CSA’s and online orders.
“From my perspective, farming in Loudoun is advantageous due to the high population of people who value great quality products in this area,” Crush explained. “For anyone thinking of starting a business in Loudoun, I would tell them to commit to providing superior quality products to the community. You will reap the benefits of being in an area that supports and values that.
“We also have four seasons and generally don’t have consistently extreme weather – hot or cold – thus creating an ideal environment for animals and the soil.”
According to the most recent USDA Ag Census, the county is home to more than 1,200 farms and supports the production of animals from all six inhabited continents. USDA research shows that family farms remain a key part of U.S. agriculture, compriosing 98% of all farms and providing 88% of production.
Even as Spring House maintains its family farm identity, Crush embraces opportunities to expand. In 2018, Spring House added a farm store in Hamilton with products from the pastures, plus selling food from other local farms.
With an eye toward the future, Crush recently applied for and received a $50,000 Loudoun County Business Reinvestment and Recovery Grant, with funding allocated by the Loudoun Board of Supervisors from the American Recovery Plan Act.
Crush intends to use the grant to build an on-site butchery processing center. This solves a key bottleneck for large livestock production, which relies on regional processing centers that can have schedules booked months in advance. By having an on-site center, Crush streamlines production for Spring House Farm, reduces the environmental impact of transportation, and reduces the stress on his animals.
“We are thrilled to have received a grant from Loudoun Economic Development,” he said. “This will allow us to provide a larger variety of proteins to the community and will also allow us to expand and diversify our livestock offerings going forward.”
To support Spring House Farm, please shop from their Hamilton farm store, or buy directly from SpringHouseFarm.Grazecart.com.
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