How it all began
In 2020, we were living in a vibrant section of a major city with easy access to restaurants, cultural arts, and an international airport. Until, of course, everything locked down. In the months to follow we realized how much we missed spending time in outdoor green spaces, gardening and enjoying birds and other wildlife. We began looking for a place we could escape to from time to time, and ended up moving permanently into an historic farmhouse in Northern Virginia.
That’s how our adventure began, but the farm began much earlier. Timothy Taylor, Jr. (1761-1838) was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In 1776 Timothy and his brothers inherited a parcel of northern Virginia farmland from their maternal grandfather and joined the large influx of Quakers moving to the area during this time. The property included a building which was reportedly a Hessian outpost during the Revolutionary War. Timothy added to this structure in 1791, and the Willow Greens farmhouse was born. In 1796 the property, which had grown to 900 acres, was divided among the three brothers.
Willow Greens Farm remained in the Taylor family into the 20th century. Since that time there have been only four other owners, including us. Significant improvements were made to the house in each “era,” including additions in the mid-1800s, 1970s, and early 2000s; the latter brought the laundry and kitchen up to modern-day standards. The property, now just 7 acres, includes a small barn, pasture, and various trees and shrubs including a stand of boxwood that dates back to Timothy Taylor’s days, and may have been a wedding gift.
And now it’s our turn. On our first visit to the house we immediately saw its potential. We looked forward to settling in and decorating to make the house our own. We know there are some boring infrastructure projects ahead, which comes with the territory in an older home with aging systems. But there are also so many opportunities for creativity and stewardship, from modernizing the guest bedrooms to expanding the gardens to developing a wildlife-friendly meadow.
The next few issues of this newsletter will catch you up on the first stages of this journey, and then we’ll pivot to a real-time view of our work in progress Enjoy!