About Us

We strive to be good neighbors in Rappahannock County by protecting the natural resources, contributing to the economy, acknowledging the history, celebrating the culture, and sharing the bounty.

THE F. T. VALLEY FARM STORY

In 2008, The Penkiunas family purchased a parcel of land in Nethers, just over Browns Mountain from the orchard. They started with a small herd of cattle, and eventually got into the grass-fed beef business. Eight years later, they acquired Mont Medi, known by locals as The Kilby Farm. Algis had visions of restoring the land to a working farm, thriving with rows and rows of trees bearing abundant fruit. Designed by Allan Clark, the orchard now has over 12,000 apple and peach trees.

Although relatively new, their pick-your-own operation has become a favorite destination for day trippers and locals alike. During their weekly stops at the market, regulars enjoy chatting with Meredith Gilmore, market manager and VP of sales and distribution. Hikers know they can drop by after a day on Old Rag Mountain to snag some freshly-picked apples and a gallon of cider. School groups have a blast learning about apple growing while harvesting their own fruit.

The Penkiunases strive to protect the natural resources, rural economy, history and beauty of Rappahannock County. They hope you will visit the orchard and experience it for yourself!

our team

Meredith Gilmore

Market Manager/Director of Sales and Distribution

Meredith grew up on a farm outside of Front Royal, Virginia where she developed her passion for gardening, animals, and all things outside. After graduating college, she spent some time traveling and ended up living and working in Northern California, learning different homesteading skills and attending The California School of Herbal Medicine in Sonoma County. She moved back to her hometown in 2019 where she began working for organic vegetable farms and local farmer markets before landing here at F. T. Valley Farm.

Meredith is an experienced equestrian and when she is not at the orchard, she is usually on a horse, training and trail riding through the Blue Ridge Mountains. She and her partner, Brett, also love to spend their free time camping and canoeing on the Shenandoah River with their dogs, Mea and Nala.

Brett Elford

Orchard Manager/Head Pomologist

Brett is originally from Front Royal, Virginia. After graduating high school, Brett moved to Los Angeles, California, where he began working in the agriculture business for over 10 years. In 2020, Brett decided to make the move back to his hometown of Front Royal.

He came to F. T. Valley Farm in the Fall of 2022 and is now managing the 44 acres of orchard. When he is not on the tractor, Brett enjoys riding his motorcycle on back roads and fly fishing on the local rivers. He is also an avid bowhunter and when the season is right, you will find him (or not) deep in the mountains. He has a passion for the outdoors and our native wildlife

Jason Woodward

Cattle Manager

Born and raised in beautiful Madison County, Jason has been around cattle for as long as he can remember. His grandparents, who lived nearby, had dairy cattle that they used to provide milk, cheese, butter, and meat for their family. After school, Jason would help with the evening chores, feeding hay and grain and doing some of the milking.

Jason always wanted to have cattle of his own, so at age 14, he helped his dad lay brick and block during the summer to save enough money to accomplish his goal. Before school started that fall, he purchased two Hereford heifers and he has had beef cattle ever since.

An avid hunter, Jason enjoys raising and training Plott Hounds which he uses for his sport. His wife and best friend, Katie, had previously enjoyed showing coonhounds at the state and national level. The couple now use their Plott Hounds for the dual purpose of showing and working. In 2022, they had great success with a female named Honey who was crowned the Purina Outstanding Show Plott Hound of the Year, World Show Champion Plott Hound Female and National Grand Champion Plott Hound Female.

For the last 5 years, Jason has been part of the team at F. T. Valley Farm, where he manages the beef cattle herd. The herd consists of Sim/Angus cows and bulls. These two breeds of cattle are his personal favorites for soundness, productivity, temperament, and longevity. Jason’s favorite part of his job is calving season. Going into the pasture and seeing calves born is very exciting to him, and the bond between the mother and her calf is quite amazing.

OLIVER

Loved by all, Oliver is one of a kind and is the definition of chill. He’s cool, collected, unfazed, and sometimes aloof. He’s also polite, gentle, smart as a whip and absolutely gorgeous. A rescue pup from South Carolina, Oliver’s mother was a Boykin Spaniel and his father was part Chesapeake Bay Retriever, part hound, and part Chow Chow (!).

Oliver is a working dog. For the past seven years, he’s been a card-carrying member of Therapy Dogs International. When he visits schools, he relishes the opportunity to let children read to him, pet him, and hug him. This handsome guy is also a passionate hunter– he retrieves waterfowl and doves for his dad and brother.

When not working, Oliver spends his free time chasing squirrels and foxes, digging for groundhogs, and capturing mice. Chung, as his brother calls him, is our loyal and loving boy. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to meet him on your next visit to the orchard.

PENELOPE

Penny, also known as Peggy or Sky (from Paw Patrol), is our sweet rescue pup with a mind of her own. A redbone coonhound from southwest Virginia, she was emaciated when we adopted her and therefore she is obsessed with food. Penny has a heart of gold and wouldn’t hurt a flea– she loves all people and all animals, but is a bit cautious around German Shepherds. Penny is all hound. This means she tends to wander. One day last fall, a customer found her in the middle of F. T. Valley Road!

When not sleeping or eating, Penny enjoys playing with Oliver and chasing squirrels and foxes.

Kathy

Born and raised in northern Virginia, Kathy graduated from JMU and earned her Master’s degree in Education from Marymount University. She spent seven years teaching elementary school in Fairfax County Public Schools. After giving birth to their first child, Kathy fully immersed herself into parenthood, volunteering and exploring various hobbies.

In 2008, Kathy and her husband, Algis, yearned for a place in the country, and they became “weekenders” in Rappahannock County. Years later, as a suburban mother of four, Kathy was catapulted into the world of agriculture, something she had neither anticipated nor desired. But as time went by, she grew to understand that the orchard was divine intervention. It’s a place where Kathy leads field trips for local school groups; finds inspiration for her paintings; soaks up fresh air and healthy vibes; and gives back to local non-profit organizations. As the head of advertisting, marketing and special events, she and her team have created an inviting place for locals and tourists alike – – cultivating more than just apples.

When she’s not at the orchard, you can find Kathy painting at the Torpedo Factory, walking her pups, running, or spending time with their children.

Algis

Algis graduated from the University of Maryland and spent his career in the financial world. Throughout his life, he and his dad enjoyed fishing together on Lake Ontario, the Chesapeake Bay, in Yellowstone National Park, the Outer Banks of North Carlolina, and in the streams of rural Virginia. It was his love of the outdoors that drew Algis and his wife, Kathy, to Rappahannock County. Algis finds great joy when he’s outside, whether it be casting in a local stream, watching the sun rise from a tree stand, or making hay in a pasture. When not at the orchard, on the water, or in the mountains, Algis relishes spending time on the sidelines of the football field, the baseball diamond, or the soccer pitch, cheering on his kids.

Sharing the Bounty

A vital part of our mission is to share the bounty of our farm with our food-insecure neighbors.  Thus far, we have donated over 9,000 pounds of apples and over 800 pounds of grass-fed ground beef to local food pantries and neighbors throughout the commonwealth who are in need.

history of the farm

F.T. Valley Farm, also known as Mont Medi, is just off highway 231, or F.T. Valley Road. Captain John James Smith Stark left his home on the Hazel River and purchased the land in 1838 from Churchill Allen. In every direction, there were small, rolling mountains. Hence, they called it Mont Medi, signifying “in the midst of the mountains”. Captain Stark found a double log cabin on the property, circa 1750, near Browns Mountain. They added onto the house and covered it with white clapboard. He and his wife, Ann Elizabeth Botts of Mountain View, near Woodville, raised all of their children on this farm. They were loved and respected by all who knew them. “Ole Cap’n” as he was affectionately called, did not approve of slavery and he hired the men of the mountains to till his land. To them, he was an understanding friend. Captain and Mrs. Stark were blessed with ten children. One of their sons, James Peyton Stark took over the family farm at the close of the Civil War. He married Ella Rust and together they raised six children. One of the Stark’s daughters, Elizabeth, married Cornelius Randolph Hite. Randolph Hite jointed the Black Horse Company of Stuart’s Cavalry. In 1876, Mr. and Mrs. Randolph Hite came to live at Mont Medi. The farm remained in the Hite family and ultimately Mary Elizabeth Hite married into the Kilby family.

— HITE, MARY. “CHAPTER VII.” MY RAPPAHANNOCK VIRGINIA STORY BOOK. RICHMOND,VIRGINIA, THE DIETZ PRESS, 1950, PAGES 48-57.