We are delighted to share that our 2023 Valley Treasure is Walter Brown. By awarding a Valley Treasure, we hoped to recognize an outstanding community member that has done more than their fair share to preserve the things we love about the Shenandoah Valley, and Walter’s commitment to preserving his family’s land for future generations is deserving.
An Augusta County native, Mr. Brown and his family have been on a nearly life-long journey to ensure the legacy of Hidden Springs Farm, the same property owned and farmed by his grandfather and his father where Mr. Brown was born and where he lives now with his wife of 57 years, Joan.
The Brown family started with a USDA easement to protect the powerful 300,000 gallons-per-day spring on the property that the farm is named after. The farm then earned a Virginia Century Farm designation, a recognition of farms that have been in the same family for more than one hundred years. In the words of Walter, “There is pride in having your own farm. I am going to hold onto this for my daughters and my nieces and nephews. I know that it makes them feel good to have that legacy.”
The Browns are now working with the Black Family Land Trust to permanently protect their third-generation family farm under a conservation easement, a legal agreement limiting certain uses of a property to preserve its natural resources. That easement ensures the family legacy as one of the last African American farms remaining in Augusta County.
On September 20, the Alliance held a virtual ceremony to honor Mr. Walter Brown and family. Special guests Dr. Jewel Bronaugh of Virginia State University & Ebonie Alexander of the Black Family Land Trust shared remarks and Nancy Sorrells (Alliance) presented Mr. Walter Brown with the award.
About Valley Treasure
The Shenandoah Valley is an extraordinary place, with its iconic farming landscapes, beautiful streams, world-class public forest lands, and rich cultural history. We recognize and are grateful for the many community members that work quietly to conserve the land, water and way of life in their corner of the Valley. The Valley Treasure award is an opportunity to meet and recognize those folks.
Photo: Walter and Joan Brown (Photo provided by Nancy Sorrells)