Rixeyville, VA


Starstead Farm is operated by Stephen and Amanda Day in Culpeper County, Virginia.

We are a small, intensive farm growing on 1 acre of ground for the 2021 season. We produce a wide variety of interesting and flavorful vegetables as well as seedlings for home gardens. Our vegetables and plants are certified organic. We also maintain a flock of 150 fully pastured laying hens that roam free on 8 acres of fenced pasture. We choose to grow without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers and are mindful of soil health. Our vegetables and eggs are available at the Warrenton Farmers’ Market, Westover Farmers' Market, and through membership in our CSA.

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Stephen and Amanda met in Dewey Beach, DE in 2009, neither with any inclination toward a farming career. In a couple short years, the notion began to grow that there was a path to proprietorship, self-direction and a fulfilling and honest living to be had at Stephen's family homestead in the Blue Ridge foothills. Amanda and Stephen both received bachelor's degrees at JMU (4 years apart!) and spent 1 year dalliances at paid internships elsewhere before making the decision to become market gardeners.

You find us now in the midst of this project! We have been farming together for eight years, were married in 2017 and have two young sons, Tom (born 2019) and Will (born 2022).

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Stephen's parents and grandparents are responsible for planting in our minds the slow-to-germinate idea of a country lifestyle coupled to a profitable farm. Jim and Sally Mello led the charge from the city to the hill-country of Rixeyville with the not-so-fashionable notion of "retiring" to the hard work of a homestead and small Christmas tree business. Convinced by Jim and Sally's efforts and inspired by their own dreams of getting back to the land, Jeanne and Richard Day followed suit and transplanted their household to Culpeper County from Fairfax.

We mention our family partly because they are the indulgent and loving hosts of our farming project, but also because they had the guts to go through the many ups and downs of relocating a family to the hills while maintaining jobs in D.C. On top of that, they provided a proof of the concept that a profitable small farm can be started from scratch, an idea that had left the family (and nearly the whole nation) for a generation. We do not think we would have the courage to gamble as they did on finding a fulfilling living on the outskirts of Northern Virginia if it weren't for their example and encouragement.

Similarly, Amanda's parents, Nancy and Ben Martindale, have been nothing but supportive of their daughter's entrepreneurial escapades with some lanky farmer on a ranch in Rixeyville.

Also included in our family are the farms and farmers that helped us launch: Amanda spent two years interning at Waterpenny Farm in Sperryville where she learned a great deal about successful vegetable production from proprietors Eric and Rachel. Stephen grew up working for his grandparents at Oak Shade Farm during the Christmas sales season, then returned to work for them part-time while he began to set up his own business.

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