American Farm Family: Alvis Farms embraces agri-tourism, honors heritage in Virginia

Avis Farms, a family-run dairy operation in Virginia, opens its doors to the public, bridging the gap between agriculture and the community.

The Alvis Farms stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of family agriculture. With a deep-rooted history dating back to 1965, this family-run dairy farm has not only weathered the test of time but has also evolved with a vision for the future.

“I grew up right on the farm, started feeding calves when I was younger, and it turned into a passion for dairy,” said Erin Henley, a passionate advocate for dairy farming. “I graduated from Virginia Tech with a dairy science degree in 2012 and came back to run the dairy.”

The farm is a testament to the Alvis Family’s dedication and resourcefulness.

“We built just about everything here ourselves back in ’65,” reminisces George Alvis, Jr., who has been instrumental in the farm’s growth. “We didn’t have much farmland. It was all woods. We had a sawmill, cut the trees, and built the first milking parlor and freestall barns. Cows have been milked here every day since.”

The farm currently houses around 800 Holsteins, known for their impressive milk production and ease of care, which the family believes emphasizes the importance of quality over quantity.

“When we increased the herd, we wanted better cows, not just more cows,” said Dennis Alvis, “That’s why we turned to registered Holsteins, focusing on the quality of cows.”

The Alvis family’s commitment to quality extends to breeding, and they’ve found success selling bulls to other farmers and stud services. Erin appreciates the ease of managing their registered animals, thanks to the EasyID program, which streamlines registration and provides valuable information on ear tags.

Beyond their dairy operation, Alvis Farms has embraced agri-tourism as a way to connect with their community and educate the public about agriculture.

“We started planting sunflowers four years ago for birdseed, but we had issues with people trespassing,” Erin explained. “So, we decided to turn it into a festival. Last year, we had about 6,000 people visit the farm over four days. We’re back at it again this year, and we believe that agri-tourism can help people learn where their food comes from.”

Working together as a family has its challenges, but it also fosters effective communication and shared goals. George Alvis, Jr. encapsulates the farm’s ethos, saying:

“Everything here was homemade. We started in the sticks, and we’re still in it. We work hard and keep on going.”

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