Condon doesn't know Kluge

At the Kluge Estate and Albemarle Farm, our land is bustling with life. Over the last 20 years I have worked hard to create an environment of sustainable agriculture. In response to Marlene Condon's letter [July 3: "How natural can Klugeville be?"] (http://www.readthehook.com/93677/letter-how-natural-can-klugeville-be), let me introduce you to my 1,300-acre world.

1) Woodlands date back to Jefferson's day, bursting with trees, wild grasses, and woodland flowers. 2) Four acres of orchards produce several varieties of fruit. 3) A two-acre berry patch flourishes by the pool. 4) An assortment of fish, turtles, various amphibians, a beaver, swans, ducks, a Canadian goose, a pair of herons, and a pair of resident Bald Eagles inhabit over 13 acres of ponds surrounded by black bears, turkey, and deer.

5) Fifty acres of vineyards use herbicides, not pesticides, to protect the fruit, leaving the vineyard thriving with life, not sterile. 6) The Conservatory houses a collection of rain forest plants for lifecycle study, viewing, and enjoyment. 7) The herb garden next to our farm shop and woodland walk displays a collection of native plants.

Our development will maintain the spirit of the estate. We will reforest with deciduous hard woods and native plants, build fewer homes than it is our right to, build a 10-acre pond, and preserve the streams. We will also create meadows, orchards, and of course, vineyards. All the homes will have rain collection cisterns, conserving well water. Only environmentally friendly building materials and architecture with classical dignity that inspires will be used in construction.

In civilizations throughout history, literature, and music, naturalists and natural philosophers had one idea in common: Evolution is growth. The more one uses her land, the more it will thrive. Using land in a thoughtful way provides generations a reason to stay, jobs, careers, a community to enliven and enrich, well-funded schools, police, firefighters, churches, farming, and cultural festivals.

Most importantly, thoughtful land use creates an educated community that appreciates the fact that this place is not just for them, but also for all who come through here.

As a member of the Virginia Endowment for the Environment for seven years, I can assure you that this farm is not a farm that is contributing to the pollution of the Chesapeake Bay. The Bay has been making a comeback for the last 15 years. Not only are you not a farmer, but you are no environmentalist, either. Perhaps if you feel a loss of wildlife where you live, you are experiencing an exodus.

Patricia Kluge
Albemarle