Meet Your Farmers
Mike, Molly & Alden Peterson
Mike and Molly Peterson, high school sweethearts, grew up in rural Illinois. Molly grew up with a menagerie of animals from dogs and horses to a goat named Ritzy, and, once, even a pet turkey they called George. She remembers riding her bike during summer break down the country roads with her dad to a neighbor's house to buy farm fresh eggs, ("they taste the best," he said.) But her fondest (and most aromatically recalled) memories were with her childhood friend playing with the new piglets in the sow barn of her friend's grandparents - also their rural school bus drivers. Mike, bred from a long family farm heritage, grew up eating food from his Grandma's garden, homemade garden strawberry pies, milk from the cows on the farm, picking apples, pumpkins from the local orchard, and Christmas trees from the local tree farm. Food and family were always front and center in Mike's childhood. Gathering around the table to home cooked meals and large family gatherings on the weekends, usually at his grandparent's farm, were very important in building the values that Mike carries with him today.
Once they made their way together to Rappahannock County in 2008, with the local food and "know your farmer" movement shifting into full swing across the country, the Midwestern values they were raised with resonated as they found their way back to the farm.
Mike, a trained professional chef with titles of Executive Sous Chef at a private club near Aspen and butcher at The Inn at Little Washington, wanted to give farming a try to become a better chef. After interning at Mount Vernon Grassfed for nearly a year he never looked back: he had found his home. Molly, naturally, followed Mike into farm life. Molly fell in love with the scenery, connection with the animals, and the ability to work side-by-side with her best friend and husband. A professional photographer, Molly documents their daily lives around the farm, and attends to the marketing and customer service side of the business (admittedly she talks more than Mike, so it suits them both!).
In late 2013, Mike and Molly fulfilled the original intention of Mount Vernon Grassfed - to cultivate a younger generation of farmers while keeping the land in agricultural use - by signing a lease on the land and purchasing the business from farm owner Cliff Miller, III. In addition to leasing pasture at the Miller's Mount Vernon Farm, for four years they also leased 380 acres at Greenwood Farm just four miles from Mount Vernon. Their intentions were aligned with the Miller family - whose family has owned Mount Vernon Farm for eight generations: to be responsible stewards of the land, promote diversity through ecologically sound practices, and to raise food with integrity. With the birth of their son in 2016, they started to shift the farm business around to adjust to life with an infant. For nearly five years the Petersons operated their own retail farm store in Sperryville, Virginia closing at the end of 2017. In early 2018, Mike was offered - and accepted - a grazing position at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, NY. It was a tough decision but, ultimately, one they felt in their hearts would be best for their family and the farm. You can read more about their decision here (Nov 2017) and here (March 2018).
View daily behind-the-scenes farm life images on Instagram by searching for #heritagehollowfarms; both Mike & Molly have accounts and they hope you tag your HHF experience, too.