Main Street Chamber Orchestra Presents The Nutcracker

originally published in our September edition

By Claire Stuart

All human societies have some sort of music, and Jonathan Goldberg believes that timeless music resounds with human nature.

Although some people consider classical music a relic of the past, Goldberg vehemently disagrees. He counters that they are simply not familiar with it. With that in mind, Goldberg founded the Main Street Chamber Orchestra to make classical music a relevant part of life for everyone in the community. 

Retired from a lifetime in music, primarily as a conductor in performances from New York City to El Paso, Texas, Goldberg has worked with Leonard Bernstein (“and I’ve got the pictures to prove it,” he laughed) and William Shuman, president of Lincoln Center. Goldberg and his wife Felicia moved to Berryville from Ashburn to help their daughter, Helena, who operates the Goldberg School of Music in Berryville.

Not content with retirement, Goldberg serves as Adjutant Professor of Music at Northern Virginia Community College, Loudoun Campus, and for three years he was conductor of the Rose Hill Chamber Orchestra. He tells of playing excerpts from famous pieces by Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and others to a music appreciation class, asking whether students were familiar with at least one. All of the students answered in the affirmative, proving that classical music is alive, whether we realize it or not.

Traditionally, chamber music is defined as classical music that could be played by a small group of musicians in a palace chamber or large room. Goldberg explained that many pieces of great music are never played because symphony orchestras are too big for colleges and universities, and there are no small orchestras available for those venues. He noted that there are no professional orchestras in Northern Virginia west of Fairfax.

Confident that the community wants and will support a chamber orchestra in the region, Goldberg debated starting one himself. “I talked to many people, and they said YES! I talked to Nela Niemann (of Blue Ridge Dance Studio), and asked her if I was crazy to try this. She said I was, but that she was told the same thing and has been here 30 years!”

That settled, the Main Street Chamber Orchestra still needed a home. Goldberg spoke to Justin Ivatts, Rector of Grace Episcopal Church and Wendy Oesterling, the church’s Music Director, and the orchestra will be playing in the church hall.

Then came the big question of funding. Fortunately, the orchestra obtained grants from the Marion Park Lewis Foundation, the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the Bank of Clarke County Foundation. In addition, they had a successful Go Fund Me campaign. “Now we can already pay for the first concert,” Goldberg reported.

Goldberg explained that the orchestra is not an amateur or volunteer group although community groups may participate in performances. He stressed that the orchestra’s musicians are all paid professionals. Musicians (and the arts in general) have disproportionately taken a financial hit with the Covid pandemic. Performances have been cancelled and many musicians were forced to find other work. Ticket sales never meet the needs of musicians, hence the need for fundraising.

Performers will vary with the needs of the pieces to be played, and they come from a pool of area musicians. “Our number one horn player plays in the Baltimore Symphony,” Goldberg noted, “and we’re blessed in this region with military bands. The musicians want to play stuff they don’t get to play often. This is a pool to grow with, but with the military, scheduling can be a problem.” 

The next big fund-raising event will be October 3 at The Mill at Carter Hall, featuring world-renowned pianist Brian Ganz in a benefit for the 2022 spring concert. “It’s a big coup to get someone of his stature,” Goldberg declared. “Brian has many friends in the area, and there isn’t much room, so this concert will be by invitation only. But if someone really wants a ticket, I may be able to get one if they contact me.

”Three members of the community will be playing with Ganz: Akemi Takayama, Vasily Popov and Donovan Stokes. Takayama and Stokes are both Professors of Music at Shenandoah University. 

The orchestra will present a free family concert each year, designed to appeal to young people, starting with their first concert on December 11. They will perform the perennial favorite, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, and showcase dancers from Nela Niemann’s Blue Ridge Studio for the Performing Arts. The performance will take place at 3pm at Grace Episcopal Church in Berryville.

Next year’s free concert will be Handel’s Messiah, featuring Wendy Oesterling’s Piedmont Singers, in addition to singers from local churches. Planned for next spring is a performance of Leos Janacek’s “Nursery Rhymes” (not  children’s music) with help from Ms. Kristi Snarsky’s Clarke County High School Choir.

Says Jon Goldberg, “The transformative power of classical music to enrich our lives can illuminate our shared humanity, reminding us that, in the words expressed in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, ‘All men are brothers.’”

Visit the website for information on upcoming performances:

Burwell-Morgan Mill History Still Being Made

For one Clarke County woman, the mill is part of her story. And she’s not alone.
Based on Kathy Hudson’s writing, with support from David Lillard

Back in 1985, Kathy Hudson had a decision to make. A recently minted college graduate with a degree in education, she had interviewed with — and would subsequently receive offers from — Clarke County Public Schools and Charles County, Md.

By Kathy’s telling, the Burwell-Morgan Mill in the village of Millwood, helped tip her decision to move to Clarke.

Now retired, she coordinates volunteers at the Art at the Mill event, sponsored by the Clarke County Historical Association and scheduled October 2 through 17.

“When I came to Clarke to interview, I first met Assistant Superintendent William Overbey in the administration offices,” recalls Kathy. “After our interview, John McCuan (my future principal at Boyce Elementary School) picked me up in his Subaru to take me to see Boyce School.” After the interview, on the drive back to Berryville, McCuan took Kathy on a short scenic drive of Clarke County through Boyce to Millwood. “As we passed some of the grand houses on that road, I was charmed,” she said. “Coming from the suburbs of Pittsburgh, I had seen my share of old neighborhoods and estates (albeit with not much property tacked on,) so it was nothing unusual. When we got to Millwood, however, I knew I was hooked on Clarke County.” 

It was on that trip that McCuan pointed out the Burwell-Morgan Mill.

“I took one look, and I was enchanted,” said Kathy. “I love history; knowing that roots in the county went back to the 1700s made Clarke County my choice to come and work.”

Kathy married in 1987 — “a native Clarke County boy,” as she says — raised two sons, and retained her love of the region’s history and landscape. Shortly before she retired from Boyce Elementary School in 2015, her good friend Kathy Campbell, who was then Clarke County Historical Association’s president, called for a favor. She asked if Kathy would coordinate the volunteers for the upcoming art show at the Mill.

“I begged off, since I was still working,” said Kathy. “And, truthfully, I did not think I would be able to do a very good job with it. I told her to get back in touch with me after I retired.”

Campbell didn’t let Kathy forget that promise. In the fall of 2017, Kathy started making phone calls for volunteers. She also volunteered at the art show; and this opened a new world for her. “I really enjoyed meeting the artists, seeing their artwork, and meeting the public and patrons who came to the show,” said Kathy. “I’ve been involved with the art show ever since.”

In 2019, she joined the historical association’s board of of directors. “Since I have been retired, I have termed this the decade of giving back,” says Kathy. She also served on the board of The Barns of Rose Hill, from 2015–2020, and the Clarke County Education Foundation since 2019. “When I was working full time for CCPS, I did not feel I could take on additional roles in the community,” she said. “One of the things that I took to heart from my service on the Barns of Rose Hill board was to ‘give of your time, talent, and treasure.’ As a retired school librarian, I may not have much ‘treasure,’ but I certainly have the time and skills to help our community, and I am thrilled to be involved with the CCHA.”

Kathy is especially gratified to know that the efforts of past committees and the current Art Show Committee (Kathy Campbell, Gwen Casey-Higgins, Snow Fielding, Candy Means and Janet Bechamps) and a myriad number of volunteers help keep the historic mill going — millers, junior millers, others who volunteer for a few hours during the show.  “Never in my wildest dreams in 1985 did I envision becoming involved with this beautiful, restored building,” said Kathy.

The art show is the largest fundraiser for the Clarke County Historical Association; it helps keep the water wheel in the Burwell-Morgan Mill turning. “Thanks to the purchase of the mill by the CCHA in 1964, its leaders over the years, and efforts of the Art Show Committee, started by Sally Trumbower in 1990, the Burwell-Morgan Mill continues to thrive,” Kathy added.

Art at the Mill includes artists from the mid Atlantic region, featuring varying styles and prices.

The show runs from October 2–17, from 10am till 5pm 10-5 on Saturdays and noon till 5pm Sunday through Friday. 

You can preview artwork at, then navigate to the web gallery. You must call the Burwell- Morgan Mill at 540-837-1799 during art show hours to purchase.

Become a CCHA member on when you visit and enjoy free admission; admission for non-member adults is $5 and $3 for seniors. Students can attend for free.

CDC guidelines will be observed, and there will be no Patron’s Night.

Old Tree Saved As Wildlife Habitat

By Doug Pifer

For the past five years, every time it stormed we worried that a big limb would break off our beloved old Kentucky coffee tree and destroy our entryway fence. Now our property is safe from that disaster, and a magnificent old tree remains as wildlife habitat.

I invited Erik Berndt, certified arborist and owner of Viking Tree Service, LLC, to inspect the nearly dead tree. My wife and I wanted to save as many main branches as possible while minimizing the risk of damage by falling wood. He agreed our tree was an excellent candidate for trimming as a wildlife habitat tree. He encouraged me to look at some of the standing dead trees at Morgan’s Grove Park, which his company cares for, to see examples of his work. We were impressed when we examined several standing dead trees there. Each was trimmed to look like a natural dead snag in the woods. After years of cringing whenever we saw a big shade tree with branches crudely lopped off, we were overjoyed to find a company willing to trim our tree the way we wanted. We were also delighted to find a tree service that considers a wildlife habitat tree an actual “thing.”  

The Viking Tree crew showed up at the appointed time with an impressive array of equipment and machinery. With block and tackle they ascended the main trunk and carefully removed the outer branches. When they encountered a heavy limb whose weight would stress the tree in a storm, they removed it with surgical precision. But they didn’t stop there. They made a series of V-shaped cuts at the top of each large limb to allow moisture to enter the dead wood, so the tree decays from the top down. This allows the main trunk to remain sound and stand for many years. Furthermore, cuts carefully made at various angles made the limbs look like they splintered and broke off naturally.

For hard-to-reach limbs, a large lift was necessary. Each cut made the tree look safer and less likely to drop a branch to crush our fence or garden shed.

By 4pm the crew had completed the finishing touches, and I admired the balanced, sculptural quality of the tree and its remaining branches. It was a piece of art.

While it’s now official, this tree had already been wildlife habitat for a long time. Several trunks have woodpecker holes in them. The lowest branch sprouts a tuft of stunted Kentucky coffee tree leaves. Years ago, a bird dropped a seed of bush honeysuckle into the crotch between two main trunks about ten feet up. The seed has grown into a sizeable bush. More bits of green include poison ivy and Virginia creeper vines, and a young Kentucky coffee tree shoot that has sprouted next to the trunk, growing from the original 
root system.

A tree is home to an amazing amount of life. As it matures and declines, it hosts an increasing number of organisms — from mold and bacteria to algae and fungi, to insects and spiders to woodpeckers and raccoons. Fallen limbs continue to feed and shelter numerous life forms as they decompose and enrich the soil.

For an old tree, dying isn’t an occurrence but more of a gradual transformation. Our Kentucky coffee tree demonstrates how a treasured old tree need not be destroyed. It can stand for many years as wildlife habitat.

Silicon Valley, Meet Berryville, Virginia

By Claire Stuart

The big guys in tech are paying attention to a small research group in Berryville, reports Gary McGraw of Berryville Institute of Machine Learning (BIML). “We are working on stuff at the edge of science — artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).”

In 2019, McGraw, along with computer scientist Richie Bonett, cyber-security expert Harold Figuroa, and research engineer Victor Shepardson, co-founded BIML, a think tank dealing with ML and AI security. McGraw had retired after 23 years of pioneering work with a software security firm.

McGraw holds Ph.Ds. in cognitive and computer science. He is the author of eight books on software security and over 100 peer-reviewed papers in industry publications. ML and AI are at the heart of computer evolution, and computers are an intrinsic part of all facets of modern life. They run energy grids, air and rail traffic, military operations, satellites, food safety, water supplies, government offices and banking. For ordinary people, there are cellphones, home security systems, smart automobiles, connected appliances, video games, virtual assistants, and more.

In ML, computers are programmed to recognize data, automatically learn from it, and use it to improve their own functions. They add to their knowledge so that they can make decisions. When you ask your virtual assistant to play a song, it learns what you like and suggests similar music. It learns your food preferences and offers dining suggestions. But that’s just the “up” side!

Anyone who enjoys science fiction has no doubt seen the classic 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.  When “HAL,” the deranged computer, refuses to let the astronaut back into the spaceship, it utters the chilling and unforgettable line, “I’m sorry Dave, I can’t do that!” Fortunately, that scenario did not come true in 2001, but we are moving a lot closer to meeting HAL now. Bad actors are constantly seeking ways to hack into ML systems, with potentially disastrous results.

McGraw observes that in an effort to quickly produce more and more sophisticated technology, security weaknesses are sometimes overlooked. McGraw mentioned a frequently-cited study illustrating an attack on ML — the alteration of a STOP sign with tape so that a self-driving vehicle sees it as a speed limit sign.

“If security, reliability and trustworthiness of technology itself is called into question, it makes technology companies take notice,” said McGraw. BIML is doing what McGraw defines as “architectural analyses” of ML systems, identifying weaknesses. “Our targets are the engineers designing these systems,” he explained, “We are helping them to do a better job—to build security in, in the first place, not have to go back and plug holes. All I suggest is that let’s build security into AI so hackers can’t get into a system. We’re helping the good guys fighting a war on the 
bad guys.

”McGraw notes that BIML’s architectural risk analyses are unique in the field, helping BIML build its reputation. They offer advice from a scientific viewpoint, identifying risks and determining how to mitigate them. McGraw speaks on cyber security at universities and conferences around the country and is on the advisory boards of a number of tech startups. He recently gave a presentation on taxonomy of attacks on ML at a private Silicon Valley conference, the Security Data Science Colloquium. It was attended by about 150 representatives of tech giants Microsoft, Google, Facebook and others, as well as many universities. He was excited to show how Berryville is directly affecting what’s going on in Silicon Valley!

Earlier this year, BIML received a $150,000 grant from a group called Open Philantrophy, an organization concerned with the effects of technology on people and the planet. BIML will use the grant to further their research as well to provide funds for an intern. They have their first intern, Nikil Shyamsunder, a Handley High student.McGraw moved to Berryville from Loudoun County in 1999. The speed of development there “pushed me over the mountain,” he said. Now he lives in a circa 1760 farmhouse on 10 acres on the banks of the Shenandoah next to Holy Cross Abbey. Of course, he observed that development is increasing in Clarke as well. “The future is going to happen — let’s make it better.”

He cares deeply about his adopted home town and is concerned that there are local people who are homeless and hungry. Grateful that he has been fortunate, he works to give back by helping make Clarke County a place where everyone can live. He personally gives regularly and generously to the Free Medical Clinic, Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, local Habitat for Humanity and other nonprofits concerned with food, housing, medical care, legal advice and the environment.

Although McGraw describes himself as an “alpha geek” he is certainly not one-dimensional. He says music is supremely important to him and provides balance to his life. He is a classically trained musician, but he specializes in improvisation. Starting as a child with violin, he also plays mandolin, guitar and piano. He is in two bands, Bitter Liberals and Where’s Aubrey, and they have played many benefit concerts. With Covid restrictions ending, he looks forward to performing publicly again.

Welcome Woody’s Quick Stop

The building at 304 N. Buckmarsh Street has been a convenience store for as long as anyone can remember; it was most recently owned by Mohammad and Farhat Kashmiree. When William “Woody” Woodruff, who grew up in Berryville, lost his barber shop in Herndon last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he returned home to visit his mother. While in town, he met the Kashmirees, who wanted to retire, and Woodruff found an opportunity. Woodruff bought the store and opened Woody’s Quick Stop in mid-May. On Aug. 1, Mayor Arnold officially welcomed Woodruff as a new Berryville business owner and commended him for keeping the convenience store open to serve residents and those traveling along U.S. 340. In the photo above, Woody Woodruff and his wife Tonette Stewart hold the grand-opening ribbon for Berryville Mayor Jay Arnold on August 1 at Woody’s Quick Stop. Watching the ribbon-cutting from behind are (from left) William’s mother Mary Woodruff, longtime store clerk Donna Segar, and the couple’s children Dominique and Jacquez Stewart. Photo provided by Clarke County.

Around Clarke County July and August

July 26–29
The Berryville Baptist Rascals, will perform for the first time since before the pandemic. Performances will be at Rose Hill Park. E. Main St. Berryville from 6–8pm. Free and open to the community. For information call 540-664-6950.

14 Outdoor Movie Night
Secretariat Long Branch Historic House and Farm. 830 Long Branch Lane. Millwood. Join Long Branch and the Clarke County Historical Association for family fun movies outdoors every Wednesday in July, with refreshments for purchase. Bring a lawn chair and blanket and enjoy a movie night under the stars. Free; donations welcome. Dusk.

17 Poker Run
Boyce Volunteer Fire Company Social Hall. 1 S. Greenway Ave. Rain date July 31. Drive through the beautiful Shenandoah Valley to collect your cards. Meet back at the social hall for food, music, fun and to see if you have a winning hand. First prize $100, second prize $75, third prize $50. All vehicles welcome. Entry fee is $25 for drivers and $15 for passengers. Pre-registration encouraged. Email name, phone and number of people in party, or visit 9am. 703-470-4236.

17 Firefly Walk
Blandy Experimental Farm. 400 Blandy Farm Lane. Boyce. Walk about a mile over gently rolling terrain, bring flashlight if desired. Enjoy the light show while learning about these fascinating creatures. Reservations required. FOSA members/UVa alumni $10, nonmembers $15, FOSA and UVa families $20, nonmember families $25. Dusk. 540-837-1758.

17 Outdoor Yoga
Sanctuary Wellness Center. 208 N. Buckmarsh St. Berryville. Led by Amy Hope-Gentry. 9:45–10:45am.

18 Meet the Beekeepers
Sky Meadows State Park. 11012 Edmonds Lane. Delaplane. Meet with local apiarists of the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah and discover the art of beekeeping. 1–3pm. 540-592-3556.

20 Social Bridge Night
Long Branch Historic House and Farm. 830 Long Branch Lane. Millwood. Every Tuesday. Wine, soft drinks and light snacks provided. Limited seating; RSVP. $15 per person. 5–7pm. 540-837-1856.

21 Outdoor Movie Night Night at the Museum
Long Branch Historic House and Farm. 830 Long Branch Lane. Millwood. Join Long Branch and the Clarke County Historical Association for family fun movies outdoors every Wednesday in July, with refreshments for purchase. Bring a lawn chair and blanket and enjoy a movie night under the stars. Free; donations welcome. Dusk.

23 Music and Dinner in the Park
with Nita and Friends. Rose Hill Park. E. Main St. Berryville. Traditional folk and gospel sing along with Nita and friends. 6:30–8pm, with dinners available for purchase. 9 E. Main St., Berryville. 

23–25 Shenandoah Valley Steam Show
Clarke County Fairgrounds. 890 W. Main St. Berryville. Steam engines, threshers, oil pulls, shingle mill, gas engines, saw mill and balers. Flea market, consignment sale, live music, food trucks and more. Church service 9am Sunday. Free parking; no pets allowed. Adults $7 Friday and Saturday, $5 Sunday, children younger than 12 free.

24 Long Branch Summer Celebration
Long Branch Historic House and Farm. 830 Long Branch Lane. Millwood. Elegant summer cocktail party with light fare, open bar and live music, Caleb Nei Quartet featuring Ariana Harbin. Limited seating; RSVP. 5:30–8pm. $75 per person. 540-837-1856.

26–29 Berryville Baptist Rascals Performances
Rose Hill Park. E. Main St. Berryville. The puppet and music theatrical group led by Joan Houck will perform for the first time since before the pandemic. Free and open to the community. 6–8pm. 540-664-6950.

27 Social Bridge Night
Long Branch Historic House and Farm. 830 Long Branch Lane. Millwood. Every Tuesday. Wine, soft drinks and light snacks provided. Limited seating; RSVP. $15 per person. 5–7pm. 540-837-1856.

28 Summer Concert Series
Robbie Limon BandRose Hill Park. E. Main St. Berryville. Robbie Limon Band performs. Sponsored by Bank of Clarke County. Free. 6–9pm. 540-955-5143.

28 Outdoor Movie Night
Hidden Figures Long Branch Historic House and Farm. 830 Long Branch Lane. Millwood. Join Long Branch and the Clarke County Historical Association for family fun movies outdoors every Wednesday in July, with refreshments for purchase. Bring a lawn chair and blanket and enjoy a movie night under the stars. Free; donations welcome. Dusk.

31 10-Year Barns of Rose Hill Celebration 
Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. As a thank you to the public for their support, Barns of Rose Hill is hosting a 10 year anniversary celebration with music, food trucks, free ice cream, magic, balloon animals, face painting, arts and crafts and an instrument petting zoo. 5pm. Free admission. 540-955-2004.

31 In the Life of Lord Fairfax” Lecture
Burwell-Morgan Mill. 15 Tannery Lane. Millwood. Join Nathan Stalvey and Travis Shaw as they talk about Lord Fairfax, Virginia’s only resident English peer, who brought fox hunting, wealth and George Washington to the frontier, all of which continue to shape Clarke County today. 2–4pm.


1 Clarke County Community Health Expo
Chet Hobart Park. 225 Al Smith Circle. Berryville. One-day event organized by HopeLives365, an organization dedicated to providing hope for body, mind and soul. In partnership with Hartland Lifestyle Center, free community event designed to encourage healthy lifestyles, prevent and manage disease and connect you to resources. 10am–4pm.

3 Trivia Night
Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Clarke County Historical Association and Clarke County Library team up once again to bring live team trivia. Categories include History, Movies, Literature, Science and more.  Prizes donated by local area businesses. Barn doors open at 6:30p.m., trivia begins at 7pm. Free. 540-955-2004.

3 Social Bridge Night
Long Branch Historic House and Farm. 830 Long Branch Lane. Millwood. Every Tuesday. Wine, soft drinks and light snacks provided. Limited seating; RSVP. $15 per person. 5–7pm. 540-837-1856.

4 Outdoor Movie Night
Long Branch Historic House and Farm. 830 Long Branch Lane. Millwood. Join Long Branch and the Clarke County Historical Association for family fun movies outdoors, with refreshments for purchase. Bring a lawn chair and blanket and enjoy a movie night under the stars. Free; donations welcome. Dusk.

6 Music in the Park
with Clarke County Community Band Rose Hill Park. E. Main St. Berryville. Clarke County Community Band performs. Free. 6:30–8pm.

7 The Farmer’s Forge
Sky Meadows State Park. 11012 Edmonds Lane. Delaplane. See members of the Blacksmith Guild of the Potomac show off their skills. 12–3pm. 540-592-3556.

7 Astronomy for Everyone
Sky Meadows State Park. 11012 Edmonds Lane. Delaplane. Junior astronomer program is followed by a discussion about the importance of dark skies and light conservation. Bring telescope or binoculars if desired. 8–11pm. Parking fees apply. 540-592-3556.

8–15 Clarke County Fair Clarke County Ruritan Fairgrounds
890 W. Main St. Berryville. Animals, horticulture, crafts, baked goods, games, rides and more. See fair schedule online. Admission is $7 for adults, $2 for children 5-15, and free for preschoolers. 540-955-1947.

10 Social Bridge Night
Long Branch Historic House and Farm. 830 Long Branch Lane. Millwood. Every Tuesday. Wine, soft drinks and light snacks provided. Limited seating; RSVP. $15 per person. 5–7pm. 540-837-1856.

13 Emi Sunshine Concert
Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Rolling Stone once named 15-year-old Emi Sunshine among “10 new country artists you need to know.” Her music addresses domestic violence, dysfunctional families, political corruption, mass murder, lost love and freedom. 7pm. $25 in advance, $30 at door. 540-955-2004.

15 Meet the Beekeepers Sky Meadows State Park. 11012 Edmonds Lane. Delaplane. Meet with local apiarists of the Beekeepers of Northern Shenandoah and discover the art of beekeeping. 1–3pm. 540-592-3556.

19 Appalachian Chamber Music Festival
New Beginnings. Barns of Rose Hill. 95 Chalmers Ct. Berryville. Festival celebrates the rich history, nature and culture of the area through poignant and powerful chamber music experiences that are both meaningful and relevant to our times. ACMF brings together fresh and exciting talent, internationally-recognized artists from near and far who are united by camaraderie and cause for an evening of world-class music.7pm. $20 in advance, $25 at door. 540-955-2004.

Clarke County Farmers’ Market 317 W. Main St. (Berryville Primary – Clarke County School Board office). Customer entrance and parking is off West Main Street. All patrons are asked to comply with state-mandated requirements related to COVID-19, including social distancing and face coverings. Find a list of vendors at 8am–12pm every Saturday through the end of October.

Can You Grow Morels at Home?

By Claire Stuart

If you have ever eaten morels, you know why these odd-looking, wrinkled mushrooms are so sought after. They grow wild in our area, and they are only found at a certain time of year in certain habitats. Their locations are closely-guarded secrets kept by knowledgeable foragers, often for generations. But what if you could reliably grow morels in your own yard? Impossible, say the skeptics! It’s been tried, using all sorts of experimental methods, for years and years, with virtually no success. Morels simply grow where they want to grow. 

Here in Clarke County, Nate and Carrie Fox of Riverfox Farm are surprising the skeptics. The Foxes operate a small Berryville farm where they raise bees, heritage poultry, and cut flowers. Carrie recalls that Nate, who had been a morel hunter for years, introduced her to morels when they were dating. “It was sort of a courtship gift,” she laughed. He had tried to grow his own over the years, using locally foraged mushrooms, but had been unsuccessful. 

This year, the Foxes finally succeeded in producing a carpet of hundreds of precious morels. Dozens of participants in their two morel workshops in May had a chance to see morels growing — and taste them, too.

“In 2019, we tried a different method,” Carrie reported. “We used grain spawn and inoculated the soil with a mixture of local morels. In 2020, only about five or six mushrooms grew. Then, this year, hundreds suddenly appeared at night. We went down at night with headlamps and saw them! Over the next two weeks, they were emerging and spreading. It was so exciting! We wondered if we should keep it a secret, then we said, ‘No, let’s do a workshop. Let people see the area, the moisture of the soil, the light, and other conditions.’

”This year’s first workshop was held on May 1, and about 30 people participated. It was followed by another on May 15 with about 40 people, and all went home with jars of inoculated grain spawn. The Foxes are going to try to make it an annual event.

Carrie explained that their methods and timing are different from what most people try — making a slurry in a bucket with ashes, etc., and dumping it in the garden. While spores are very hardy, once you trigger growth, it is fussy. “We’re giving Mother Nature a hand. From our harvest, we use spores to prepare grain spawn jars. We don’t have a fancy lab; we work out of our home kitchen. We prepare jars in the pressure canner and buy grain at the Berryville feed store. People can do it in their own homes. The people at the first workshop could see mycelium growing in the grain spawn jars.

“We tend the jars through the hot summer—timing is so important. We plant in fall because they require a winter to produce in the spring. We prepare the bed site with things that saprophytic mushrooms enjoy: kitchen scraps, compost, dead leaves, wood shavings, and ashes from the wood stove. We dig a trench, put the mycelium in, water it well, and let it overwinter. The mycelium feeds off dead and decaying vegetable matter. Some morels have a mycorrhizal relationship with living trees and other plants for food.”

Carrie suspects that their beekeeping practices contributed to the successful growth of the morels.

“We noticed a relationship between the location of our apiary and where mushrooms popped out.” The Foxes have around 60 honey bee colonies. Carrie explained that when they need to supplement small colonies to build them up, they feed the bees a sugar-water mixture and a pollen patty supplement. Any excess sugar water and pollen that the bees don’t take is dumped around the tree line. Bees often build extra comb on top of or between the wooden frames, sometimes filling them with drone cells. Beekeepers must scrape it off to keep the frames clean, and these scrapings (high in proteins, fats and carbohydrates) are also dumped. The Foxes found morels popping up in those areas.Carrie hopes that their results will encourage further research and give potential morel growers a reason for optimism.

The Foxes are creating online content and instructions; a tutorial is in the works, and they are planning for a 2022 spring morel workshop. If you are thinking of beekeeping, have your first colony, need tips and pointers, or just want to learn about bees, visit their website for information about their hands-on honey bee days, starter colonies and queen bees for sale. 

Visit them online at 

Things to Know About Mushrooms:• Mushrooms are fungi and do not have chlorophyll, so they need to absorb food from their environment, and most do not need light to grow.• Saprophytic fungi grow on dead and decaying organic matter.• Mycorrhizal fungi have a symbiotic partnership with living green plants (usually trees), living in and around their roots and sharing nutrients.• Most of a mushroom is underground in the form of root-like mycelium, which is made of fibers called hyphae that absorb food. • The familiar mushrooms that we eat are the fruiting bodies of the fungus. The mycelium can stay dormant for years before sending up fruiting bodies. • Microscopic spores that serve as seeds are produced on gills under the mushroom’s cap. • Grain Spawn: Wheat, rye, millet, etc., is cooked with water and sterilized, and mycelium is added and will grow on the grain.• Substrate is the material the fungus will live and grow on, such as compost, dead wood, sawdust, rotting leaves, etc.• Inoculation is introducing spores or mycelium culture to a substrate.

Keeping Peace in the FamilyAdult Children, Parents, and Planning for the Future

By Brenda Waugh

The song the mother sings in Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw’s, “I Will Love You Forever” has stuck with me since I first read the book with one of my children a couple of decades ago. “I’ll love you foreverI’ll like you for alwaysAs long as I’m livingMy baby, you’ll be.”

In a previous article, I outlined strategies to keep the peace within the family when the parents divorce. This article is also about keeping the peace in the family, but at a much different stage in life. Is “I will love you forever” possible?  Does a parents’ love extend into the child’s adulthood? Can parents make decisions to encourage healthy relationships among their adult children? Can a parents’ love expand beyond their own life to create an opportunity for their children and grandchildren to enjoy not only a financial legacy, but also a legacy in relationships? Yes, but just like the situation with parents who are divorcing, it requires intention and hard work.

Parents can minimize conflict between adult children by involving them in the creation of a power of attorney and a medical directive. A durable power of attorney permits a designated person to sign checks, manage credit, and conduct business on behalf of another. An advanced directive appoints an agent to make medical decisions and provides directions as to how to make the decisions. This provides guidance and creates authority to make medical decisions if the parent is unable to make them independently.

The power of attorney and advanced directives may help to keep the peace among siblings when the parents are unable to make legal or medical decisions. They usually prevent the necessity of going to court to have one child, or another person, appointed to make these decisions.  Families have a very difficult time maintaining unity when, during a time of crisis, they must involve the legal institutions to select which child is best situated to perform these roles.

Another way to lessen conflict between adult children is for parents to create a comprehensive estate plan within which they designate beneficiaries for investment or bank accounts, deed real property, draft a will or create a trust. For many parents, the focus of their estate plan is to avoid paying taxes. This becomes more important and challenging, as state and federal laws change from time to time. However, simply creating the documents and working to minimize tax consequences is not enough. Too often parents of adult children make decisions in private meetings with their attorneys, without informing the children until the documents are needed. Other parents may inform the family but fail to discuss plans in sufficient depth to determine how the decisions could impact harmony within the family. 

There is a better way.

To minimize the potential disagreement, many families engage a mediator trained in elder mediation. During family meetings, participants reach consensus on who may best accept the duties of the legal and medical power of attorney. The parents may also outline the beneficiaries, wills, and trusts they are considering, and consider input from their beneficiaries. These meetings will prevent the shock of a parents’ passing when they have not communicated the information. It may also permit the parent to consider the adult children’s concerns when constructing these essential documents.

In working to maintain harmony within the family when creating an estate plan or power of attorney, a few dos and don’ts provide guidance.

Don’t: Don’t ignore the necessity of executing a power of attorney, medical directive and an estate plan. Without these documents the family must go to court to establish guardianship or conservatorship, often increasing potential conflict among family members.

Don’t: Don’t rely on forms to create documents from the internet or an office supply store. Documents that do not meet the requirements of your state or the needs of your family may wind up being costly and damaging to your family.

Don’t: Don’t focus on taxes to the exclusion of relationships. Including your family in the decision-making process and creating plans to meet everyone’s needs will reduce the potential for conflict in the future.

Do: Do Retain authority over making decisions about your estate plan and power of attorney, but include anyone who is impacted in a collaborative and healthy way. Allow them to participate in discussions to address disagreements in a suitable environment. Consider working with a mediator, a family therapist, or a facilitator to help your family reach mutual understandings before having documents professionally prepared. DISCUSS long and short-term plans of each family member before deciding how to structure an inheritance, create a trust, or make a will.  Looking at each family member’s long- and short-term desires and needs will minimize future conflict.

Include provisions in all documents, as much as possible, to require beneficiaries to participate in mediation prior to engaging in legal action to resolve conflicts and provide for the costs to be paid by the estate, or equally between parties. Families can provide a great comfort and resource when challenged with difficult times. Proper thought and planning, with the family relationship being the focus of the plan, can maintain lifelong relationships that will provide future generations with more than financial security.

Brenda Waugh is a lawyer/mediator with Waugh Law & Mediation, serving clients in the Blue Ridge region of Virginia and Eastern 
Panhandle of West Virginia

A Sound Of Summer: The Wood Pewee

Story and illustration by Doug Pifer

As spring turns into summer, I listen for a bird song I’ve loved since childhood. I remember hearing, as soon as school closed for the summer, a rather lazy, sentimental birdsong coming from the woods across the road. Whenever I hear it now, it evokes memories of long summer days. A member of the flycatcher family, the wood pewee derives its common name from the English rendition of its distinctive song. I find it’s always tricky to start putting bird sounds into words. Everyone hears something different. What I hear from a pewee sounds more like “piddy-you-wee,” all run together with the last part slurred upward. The answering alternate song ends in a long, downward slurred note, “we-doooo.”Wood pewees are late migrants that seldom show up around here before the first of May. They winter in Central and South America and seem to be in no hurry to leave the tropics until March or April. But as soon as they get here the males start singing. Their serenade begins at dawn and ends at dusk. Their song persists throughout the day even in July and August, as the nesting season winds down. Most birds go quiet around then, as they replace their old feathers with a new suit of fall plumage. But the wood pewee keeps on singing.It’s easier to see wood pewees at our place in August, when abundant insects in our fields and pastures tempt them to leave the treetops to perch on our fence. A scant five and a half inches long, a pewee is as plain as can be. A medium shade of gray on the back becomes slightly browner on the head, wings and tail. There are two white wing bars. The underside, from throat to tail, is creamy-white tinged with olive-gray up the sides. The only touch of color is an orange tinge on the lower half of its beak. The eastern wood pewee is a denizen of woods, parks, or wherever there are large shade trees. It perches in a characteristic upright posture, turning its head constantly seeking flying insects.  Spotting an airborne arthropod, the bird flies off in pursuit and latches onto the insect with an audible “snap.” In June, I saw a pewee return to its perch with a cicada in its mouth. Holding the insect in its bill, the pewee bashed it against the branch repeatedly until the cicada’s wings fell off, and then swallowed it whole.I’m amazed how easily flycatchers capture insects. They have a wide mouth and flattened beak especially adapted for the job. I once examined the bill of a wood pewee that had killed itself flying into somebody’s window. Seen from the side, the beak looked slender and straight except for a slight hook at the tip. Seen from above or below, it was roughly triangular. From the pointed, hooked tip it widened towards the bird’s mouth. Surrounding the mouth was a fine moustache of stiff bristle-like feathers, as if the bird had whiskers. As the bird overtakes a flying insect, these springy bristles act like a net to “bounce” a hapless insect towards the trap-like mouth. By the middle of September, the pewees will be gone. But I’ll remember that lazy-sounding song until next spring. 

Illustration by Doug Pifer courtesy of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.