If you follow the Lost River through Mathias, West Virginia, chances are you’ll find a Fansler-owned farm -- at last count, there were seven of them! Eldest farmer Bernie Fansler and his wife Dottie have been raising chickens and cattle since 1988. Bernie runs the farm, with some help from his sons Mike and Mark (who also own their own farms on adjoining properties), his grandson Brett (who owns Brushy Run farm), and his four great grandchildren. Dottie, a retired social worker, handles all the farm paperwork and records. Shenandoah Valley Organic was the right choice for these skilled, independent farmers. Companies they used to grow for were always telling them to change things they didn’t feel needed to be changed. They didn’t like the micromanagement they experienced. As Dottie says, “When you’ve been raising chickens as long as we have, you don’t need others telling you how to do it. SVO lets us tend to the chickens the way we know is right.” Since all the family lives on adjoining properties or a few miles away, they don’t have to go far, or anywhere at all, to spend time together, and they all look forward to big holiday family gatherings. In his spare time, Bernie likes to go to the country store to visit with his friends and go to the stock sale in Winchester on Mondays. 

Lynda Bostrom