Farmers, Families and Frontline Communities Fight Back
Residents Along Path of Destruction Unite in Resolve to Continue Opposition to Mountain Valley Pipeline LLC
Rocky Mount, VA – On Saturday, June 8th, the Werner and Reilly Family created a time to share and tour the land that was an active, pasture-based, biological livestock farm up until Mountain Valley Pipeline’s (MVP) possession began in May 2018. Four Corners Farm focused on land stewardship, restorative based agriculture and operated as an LLC. With losing the primary grazing field, the inability to rotate livestock, loss of access to the two creeks, and incompatible stewardship standards, the farm chose to cease operations after MVP began aggressively destroying their land for a 42 inch fracked gas pipeline.
Betty Werner, farm co-owner, said, “watching and hearing the large equipment tear up our lower pasture was heart-breaking. Plus the fact that MVP uses this “right of way” (ROW) for access to the next property, making it like a major roadway for equipment, vehicles and workers. We watched dozens of semi-trucks deliver pipes across our land, not to mention the buses for welders, trailers with portable toilets, security personnel and timber mats trucks.”
Co-owner and farmer, Ian Reilly, gave a walking tour while describing the practices and farm infrastructure developed and added to the land over the past eight years. Reilly shared, “A lot of blood, sweat and tears have been poured out on this land. We had steadily developed and grew our small family farm business. Now? So much of our family’s effort was wiped out almost overnight.” The Reilly Family has since relocated in order to find work as their farm livelihood has ended.
Dave Werner, co-owner and Betty’s husband, stated, “As the farm is not in operation, we’ve had to consider the possibility of selling. However, with MVP’s mess, it’s not presentable and we’re stuck continuing to pay the mortgage, taxes, insurance, and maintenance of unmarketable real estate.”
Carolyn Reilly, co-owner and Ian’s partner, planned and organized the gathering. She shared, “We continue to grieve the injury caused to the land and to our farm business. Our customers grew to trust our family as we worked steadily over the past eight years to foster transparent relationships, build a brand, and organize many open farm events to share our stewardship practices.”
While sharing space and time connecting through stories, former farm customers, neighbors, and friends shared openly. The effect of the project carried beyond the Reilly and Werner families into the community, as many customers lamented the loss of a trusted source for local, natural meat products and farm fresh eggs.
Closing out the event was a gathering to honor the resilience and strength of residents who have persevered almost five years, fighting to defend the land, water, and their livelihoods. Red Terry, known for taking to the trees on her farm in Bent Mountain, VA, summed up the feelings of many present: “After all the recent pipeline explosions and all of the fracking lawsuits they’re tangled up in? The MVP should be taken out to pasture with their own pipe bomb planted in the middle of it. It’s really good to be with people who get it. We’ve fought so hard and lost so much, but we’ll keep fighting. We’re not going away.”