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"New River Hill Farm has a vision to inspire agricultural aspirations for generations of south-western Virginia's youth. We will assist them in developing their skills in becoming independent learners who rely on their strength and abilities."


"Our mission is to provide a hands-on learning experience that will encourage and cultivate area youth to develop curiosity for our natural resources. New River Hill Farm will promote and use sustainable multifunctional agriculture and silviculture that provides educational opportunities for beginning and established farmers, particularly to the youth of south-western Virginia, while conserving natural resources. Our vision and mission reflect our fundamental belief that all people belong and deserve fairness, justice, and inclusivity."

The New River Hill Farm & Forest is a non-profit organization that offers public educational experiences and outdoor recreation. The farm & forest has taken District staff, volunteers, and donors a lot of dedication and hard work throughout the years. The District is very grateful for everyone's part in making this opportunity possible. If you are interested in contributing to our organization, donations can be made payable to: New River Hill Farm Trust and mailed to:

New River Soil & Water Conservation District

200 Jacks Orchard Road

Galax, Virginia 24333

      On August 15, 2014,  New River SWCD Director Don Philen donated his 140 acre farm in Grayson County. The New River Hill Farm Trust is now operated in perpetuity by the New River Soil & Water Conservation District for agricultural purposes. Mr. Philen also wanted to protect the integrity of the land for farm use and its scenic qualities, wildlife habitat, plants, timber, water resources & water quality, and to preserve the agricultural land. In this conveyance, Mr. Philen wanted to create an agricultural educational experience unlike any other in Virginia. The Farm is to be maintained as a working farm that will provide a unique hands-on experience to local and regional youth as well as the general public of Southwestern Virginia.

      The property owned by O.D. Philen Jr. is identified as the New River Hill Education Farm and is located in the head of the waters of Moore Creek, a tributary of the New River, in Grayson County, Virginia. The property was formed from parts of the Fred Adams Sr. estate (purchased in 1979 and 1980) and the farm of Coy Diamond (purchased in 1982). About fifteen acres were traded acre for acre with the Glen Dixon estate for personal interests and to facilitate fencing of the northwestern property boundary.

   A partnership of professionals developed recommendations using current technology, science, and experience to ensure the best protection and management of all resources found on the properties. Meeting the wishes of O.D. Philen Jr. is the ultimate goal of the New River Hill Education Farm.



In 2023, the Conservation District acquired a 173-acre property adjacent to the existing New River Hill Farm. A local resident who supported conservation of land donated $200,000. Another donor pledged $500,00 towards the project. Finally, the last $200,000 a local Trustee Group donated. On March 14, 2023, the District accepted the deed of the 173 acres.

An adjacent, 30 acres of woodland along the New River was purchased on March 9, 2023. The Virginia Outdoors Foundation, through the Preservation Trust Fund, assisted the District in receiving funding for this tract. These funds in the form of a grant, helped the District build public parking, a trailhead, trail development, new trail access points, & trail signage. Additionally, the trail development provides educational opportunities for local high schools and Eagle Scouts projects.

In November 2022, New River-SWCD was awarded a Virginia Land Conservation Foundation Grant, through Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation, $135,000 towards the purchase of 82 acres that adjoins the Districts other property. Fortunately, the land has existing trails and borders Englewood Road which allowed easy access.

The farm and forest project borders the New River, an American Heritage River and will protect water quality along its streams and diverse habitat in the area. This project will protect approximately 8,200 feet from the ridgetop development and protect the scenic viewshed for river users and those traveling the New River Blueway. The New River Hill Farm & Forest will provide a natural area for public use & passive recreation, hiking, environmental education, enjoyment of diverse wildlife, fishing, and water activities. The District will also continue to offer hands-on learning opportunities as a working farm and forest. 

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