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With Pitchforks, Prayers and Persistence, ‘Paris Barns’ is OPEN FOR BUSINESS! The Boneta Bill Rules.

photo 1If you have been following the saga of my friend Martha Boneta, an important event has just happened. On July 1 the “Boneta Bill” went into effect. Those familiar with the story know that despite a law already on the books affirming the freedom and the right to farm, the bureaucrats in Fauquier County decided to attack Martha and do everything they could to drive her off the land. The initial reasons they attacked Martha are unclear or speculative at best, but it has gone far beyond that now. And the bureaucrats have declared war on Martha Boneta and Paris Barns, the farm she owns and operates in that county.

It all started when Martha hosted a birthday party for a few 10 year old girls and posted the pictures on FaceBook. The County decided that she needed a permit to have a birthday party and planned to fine her $15,000 per day. So there was absolutely no logic in the action they took against this lady who has always wanted to be a farmer.

Fauquier County turned her dream into a nightmare. And they are still unfairly on the offensive against her despite the previous laws allowing her to farm and the brand new Boneta bill. While they couldn’t stop her from farming, they ensnared her with requirements for permit after permit. Not anything that was for the public good, this was done out of spite and, in my opinion, hatred.

10440662_10203329723377589_4850317540331444867_nAnd anyone that has ever met Martha Boneta will tell you there is not a mean or spiteful bone in her body. Why she drew the ire of these people hiding behind the badge of big government is an absolute mystery.

Yet in spite of the hateful and personal attacks, obscene mutterings under their breath when walking by and obvious attempt to drive her financially bankrupt, Martha does her best to hold on and maintain her deeply held faith. When Martha and I have discussed her story in person, she does her best to maintain her upbeat and bubbly demeanor even as she recounts the horrific and savage attacks she has endured. And there is the unmistakable welling of tears in her eyes as she speaks. Not tears of anger, but those of hurt. Deep hurt. At the things people say about her, to her and what she reads. And there is not the slightest hint of anger in Martha.

Personally, I would be livid. Most people would. We would lash out.

But beneath the hurt, behind the well of tears, all I see is genuine forgiveness in her heart. No anger. No hatred. Just deep hurt and an overwhelming will to forgive. And if anyone has any doubt that Martha Boneta has an unquenchable desire to be a farmer, her lifelong dream, then you simply don’t know Martha.

Martha battles back, there is no mistaking that. And the hundreds and hundreds of people that have supported Martha and stood with her draw as much strength from her as she does from them.

I recently made my first trip to Paris Barns with my son, my brother and his daughter and my sister and her son. Sadly, we were traveling to Wheeling, WV for the funeralPB4 of my Aunt, so our time was limited.

We drove through the gate and I told Martha that I felt as though I had left the planet and stepped into a magical land. You simply cannot describe the beauty of this place with words or even pictures. There were goats, turkeys, Emu’s, a pig, ducks, and quite a few other creatures that were all just walking around and hanging out.

Martha began showing us around and I was amazed that almost every animal had a name. I suspect Martha has named them all but I don’t know that for a fact. And none of the birds have their wings clipped. Martha explained that they stay because they want to. And at night, they are allowed to bunk with whomever they want. I had a feeling that if the book “Charlotte’s Web” had not already been written, it would have been inspired by Paris Barns. I looked for a spider, but didn’t see one.

Martha took us on a tour of the barn and as we wandered through the maze of stalls and ducked through doorways, she was a constant cyclone of motion. Spreading wood chips here, a bit of feed there, checking on the animals that were inside and working while she talked.

But there was one thing that was missing. The smell. I have been on a lot of farms in my time and they all smelled. Not necessarily an overpowering smell, although a pig farm I used to visit on the Middle Peninsula could knock you down, but an odor you would expect with such a number of animals and fowl. One stall had a few flies, for which Martha apologized. (Seriously, a farmer apologized because there were a few flies in the barn. That’s a first.) But this is one clean farm. No doubt about it.

PB3We walked out of the other side of the barn, the side that faces the pond. It was there that my brother and one of Martha’s goats began a friendship that would last until we went inside main building. I don’t think my brother was especially enamored with the goat’s friendliness, but we have certainty had a laugh or 6 about it since then.

We went inside the main building and were immediately taken by the high ceiling and rustic charm of the large room. My immediate thought was she probably paid a fortune collecting the antique furnishings and decorations. It is a look that Cracker Barrel and other restaurants spend a lot of money to achieve. Martha apologized for the appearance of the place. But take my word for it. The charm and decor is perfect for this wonderful place. I would decorate my house exactly the same if I could afford it. It screams farm Americana.

Various goods that Martha plans to sell now that the new law has gone into effect were displayed around the room. Goat’s milk soap, wool of various origins, candles, even an Emu egg the size of a small football cut in half, hinged and decorated in what is the equivalent of a Paris Barns Fabergé Egg.

And ever the gracious host, Martha served refreshments and absolutely refused to sell us anything. No matter how badly and unfairly – and even illegally – she has been treated, she still follows the laws and requirements the county has attacked her with.

That all has changed now that the Boneta Bill is law! Martha has opened Paris Barns and is now able to sell the goods the County was blocking.

The farm is a nice drive through some of the most beautiful land in the world. I regret that I only had a few short hours to spend that day and plan to make Paris Barns a day trip and my only destination sometime in the next couple of weeks. I am drooling over the fresh crop of vegetables that Martha is harvesting daily.

If you have kids you simply must take them to this place and let them talk to the animals. And even if you don’t have kids, you will love visiting.

Check out the website for Paris Barns here. Or search for Paris Barns on Facebook and become a fan. The pictures Martha posts are amazing.PB1

Did you know you can rent a tomato plant? Click the link. Martha has some unique and imaginative activities and ideas.

And it is time we thank Martha Boneta for standing up for our rights. This lady has been through hell and every small farmer in Virginia has benefited from her ordeal. And the trail she blazed goes well beyond farms. She kicked freedom up a notch with this fight.

I spoke with Martha yesterday and she said weekends are the best time to visit and to call or text her to let her know you are coming. It is a working farm and there are a lot of chores to tend to, but she wants to make sure she is there to greet you. (571)839-1143

Below is a press release with details of the new law.

Landmark agriculture bill now law in Virginia

New law reaffirms the right to farm and grants freedom from government overreach

PARIS, VA – July 1, 2014 — The bill, HB 268, becomes law in Virginia today, protecting certain activities at agricultural operations from local regulation. One of the first bills signed into law by Governor Terry McAuliffe, the non-partisan legislation became statewide law at the urging of grassroots organizations and individuals.

The bill becoming law marks the latest chapter in a controversy that attracted nationwide attention in 2012 when the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors forced family farmer Martha Boneta to cease selling produce from her own 64-acre farm. No longer allowed to sell the vegetables she had harvested, Boneta donated the food to local charities rather than let it go to waste.

Boneta is a member of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF), which offered her legal aid during the crisis. She is a keynote speaker at the FTCLDF 2014 Farm Freedom Fest in September, along with Joel Salatin, another farmer who worked alongside her on this bill.

Fauquier County officials threatened Boneta with $15,000 per-day fines for hosting a birthday party for eight 10-year-old girls without a permit, and for advertising pumpkin carvings. Seeing the county’s action against Boneta as a brazen effort to drive her off her land, Virginians from all walks of life rallied to her defense.  Supporters gathered in Warrenton, the county seat, for a peaceful “pitchfork protest” to vent their anger over what an out-of-control local government had done to a law-abiding citizen.

In the 2013 session of the General Assembly, Rep. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William) led an effort to undo the injustice inflicted on Boneta, and to protect other farmers from similar abuse, by strengthening Virginia’s Right to Farm Act.  What became known as the “Boneta Bill” passed the House by an overwhelming margin but it was killed by a Senate committee. Undeterred, Boneta and her supporters came back to the General Assembly in 2014 winning wide bipartisan approval for legislation protecting the rights of family farmers.

The bill signed by Gov. McAuliffe grew out of legislation developed by Rep. Bobby Orrick (R-Thornburg) and Sen. Richard Stuart (R-Montross) and supported by, among others, Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax). Backed by the Virginia Farm Bureau, the new law protects customary activities at agricultural operations from local bans in the absence of substantial impacts on public welfare.  It also prohibits localities from requiring a special-use permit for a host of farm-related activities that are specified in the bill.

“I am grateful to all the Virginians and legislators from across the Commonwealth who rallied for non-partisan legislation that provides economic opportunity for small family farmers, access to consumers and allows the great traditions of farming in Virginia to flourish,” said Boneta.  “It is gratifying to see Virginians, working together across party lines, rewarded by a law that enables family farms to prosper as our Founding Fathers intended.”

To celebrate the new agricultural law, a flag is flying today over the US Capitol in honor of Virginia’s farm freedom legislation.

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund defends the rights and broadens the freedoms of family farms and artisan food producers while protecting consumer access to raw milk and nutrient-dense foods. Those concerned can support the FTCLDF, a U.S. based 501(c)(4) nonprofit, by joining or donating online at or by calling 703-208-FARM (3276).


About Martha’s Farm

Paris Barns is a historic working farm in Paris, Virginia offering farm fresh seasonal organic vegetables, fresh and dried herbs, honey and honey bee products, eggs (chicken, duck, turkey and emu), hand-made soaps and alpaca, llama and sheep’s wool crafts and more.

About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog. Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

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Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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