Bob Wood of Woodsong Naturals Farm possesses a unique and admirable passion for helping residents of developing countries improve their ability to grow nutrient dense food. He ambitiously pursued this interest in some remarkable ways. As part of an internship for the Agricultural Technology program at Virginia Tech, Bob helped war refugees in Belize to develop life-saving agricultural programs. Upon obtaining his Masters in Agroforestry, Bob’s career focused on restoring the health and vigor of dessicated, marginal lands in third world countries. Later he served as the Associate Director of International Recruitment for VCU and a plant scientist consultant with both jobs taking him all over the world!
Neither Bob nor his wife Neila grew up on a farm but both believe that a rural environment is instrumental to teaching children how to work hard and respect and appreciate the land and animals that provide them nourishment. Bob was always experimenting with growing plants as a child and described his grandfather’s inspirational role by stating, “He was tough as nails. He didn’t have a tractor until my Father was in college. He farmed with mules. If an animal was birthing at 2 a.m., he’d be there. They were unbelievable workers in his generation and my Dad’s.”
Upon Neila and Bob having their fourth child they pursued their dream to raise their growing family on a farm and purchased 49 acres in Caroline County. They cleared 12 of them and built their own barn where they resided for ? months while they impressively built their family home. Somehow this busy farming family, now with a total of ten kids, makes time for home-schooling. The kids are thriving and have gained countless practical life skills and entrepreneurial strengths from farm life. The older children are pursuing diverse careers including welding, chemical engineering, arboriculture, and butchery. Their 16 year old daughter is the talented baker behind their scones and ginger cookies!
The Wood family is committed to growing their over 60 varieties of vegetables and herbs naturally with no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Their growing practices include minimal tillage and the use of cover crops, wood chips, and other natural organic amendments to improve soil health and fertility. This past year they added a geothermal greenhouse to their three hoop houses and successfully grew lettuce and greens year round! Bob clearly relishes his recent decision to make farming his full-time job, remarking, “I love working outside with living things, being with my family in nature, and serving people. I find the reward is the work itself. Farming is also perfect for someone with ADHD. I’m always doing something different!”
In addition to their home grown produce and baked goods, they offer eggs from their free-ranged ducks and chickens who eat non-GMO, verified chemical free feed. Woodsong Naturals Farms also partners with another small, off the grid farm to offer delectable organic, raw, grassfed cheeses in cheddar, colby and pepper jack.
They make time to work with the immigrant population in Richmond and teach ESL to refugees. They frequently host guests (and welcome visits from customers) and mutually share beneficial farming practices with international farming communities. Bob appreciates this exchange of ideas, stating, “The international community is very interested in where their food comes from and food is a big part of their income. They want organic and they are very knowledgeable about how growing practices affect food health.”
Healthy soil leads to healthy plants and healthy consumers. Check out the naturally grown produce, free range non-GMO eggs, and other tasty goods from Woodsong Naturals Farm and support this local happy farming family who cares about their local community and beyond!