Bob Kuhn, a 40-year contented resident of Falls Church City, has bought the farm.
His 60 acres outside of Berryville, Va., in Clarke County (just over an hour’s drive from Broad St.) is now his main hangout in retirement after 27 years as a product manager for Procter and Gamble. His wife Alix, who prefers the suburban Little City, remains at their W. George Mason St. home but visits Berryville regularly.
And yes, Kuhn, 71, was a childhood fan of the “Green Acres” comedy about the New York white-shoe attorney and socialite wife who transplanted themselves to an agricultural theater of the absurd. (His wife tapes the reruns.) But this was a serious $450,000 investment he laid down in January 2021 as a special component of his property management projects.
“I had been looking for a project with 5-plus acres and within one hour and 15 minutes of home over two years before buying” using a Clarke County realtor, he told the News-Press. “It was way more land than I had planned on, but I knew it would keep me busy for a long time. It was during the Covid period, so we had to buy with no contingencies, no inspections. I like to stay active and always need a project, and we thought it would be nice to have a place for our kids and grandkids to get away to.”
The early agenda for Kuhn’s Farm does not involve planting crops but “a full restoration of the house and main barn, including new metal roofs for both, which came to about $150,000.” Next came mending fencing and clearing the land of “50 years of dead trees and overgrown brush.” That meant purchase of a $35,000 tractor—delivery delayed by the pandemic. Fortunately, his neighbor is a tractor mechanic, “which really helps when you are trying to change a 900 lb. tractor tire” filled with water for ballast, Kuhn says. That neighbor also leases Kuhn’s pastures for $1,000 a year to provide grazing for his 30 head of cattle, which keeps the grass tidy. The sight of the cows munching the green from Kuhn’s back porch is soothing.
“We get 50 percent relief on our property taxes because we host the cows and he pays us the minimum $1,000 revenue required,” he says. “Total property taxes are about $1,500 per year after that, slightly different from our house in Falls Church.”
The folks around Berryville “are very nice, and the pace is a lot slower than in Northern Virginia,” the new farmer says. “Very quiet at night. The neighboring farms have embraced us because we fixed up the `haunted house’ in the neighborhood. They have done fencing projects with us and have come to our parties.”
Kuhn has hosted reunions and rock band sessions featuring his friends from Falls Church and Fairfax and his boyhood pals from Arlington’s Yorktown High School. “Berryville is not too far, and there are a lot of good restaurants. They also enjoy the fresh air and animals. Especially with Covid, people wanted to get outside. Lots of kids. They like the cows and playing in the barns.”
“Green Acres’” is never far from Kuhn’s mind, the obvious comparison being “the initial condition of the property. I am very green at most of the things you have to do out here, but the people are nice and don’t give you too much of a hard time. We have had a few Mr. Haneys stopping by to give endless advice, but for the most part they are helpful and we enjoy it.”
Any homesickness? “We love living in the City of Falls Church,” Kuhn says. “We have two married children and four grandchildren still in the area, and Falls Church is important to us. Our kids grew up there. It’s a great place to live.”