Chip and Susan Planck, developers of Cobbett Lane, owned and operated Wheatland Vegetable Farms from 1979-2010. In contemplating the future of their farmland, they were inspired by the example of European villages with a hard edge between houses and the surrounding agriculture. With this pattern in mind, in 2007, they employed Loudoun County’s hamlet ordinance to preserve 58 of their 60 acres from further development.
The hamlet Cobbett Lane occupies ten acres, divided into two acres for the seven clustered residential lots and eight acres of surrounding permanent open space controlled by the owners of the seven lots. Two conservancy lots of 10 and 40 acres have been sold to farmers.
The Plancks’ 60 acres were part of a group purchase of 400 acres in 1973. Two participants in the original purchase, the Newcomb and Moutoux families, continue to farm their portions of the 400 acres.
Other farmers have purchased parts of the 400 acres from the original owners: Barbara Lamborne and Dennis Fuze, Greenstone Fields; Rob and Maureen Moutoux, Moutoux Orchard; Robert Schubert, Lydia’s Fields; Howard Herman, beekeeper and Falls Church farmers’ market manager (article: Man About Town: We Don’t Want-A-Bee Without Howie); and Hana Newcomb and Jon Groisser, Potomac Vegetable Farms.
Veterinarians Lani Newcomb and Kathy Broaddus, Broad Run Veterinary Services, keep horses and chickens on part of the Newcomb acreage. Chip and Susan Planck now own and live on five acres of the original 400, and rent their tillable land to David Giusti of Second Spring Farm.
In 1980 the Plancks were among the farmers selling at the first producer-only farmers markets in the DC area and subsequently helped to start several more. Chip served on various County committees devoted to preserving farmland and developing the rural economy, and is now a board member of Future Harvest/ Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture.
Chip and Susan’s daughter Nina Planck started producer-only farmers’ markets in London, England, London Farmers Markets. and Mount Pleasant in Washington, DC, She is the author of several books, including Real Food: What to Eat and Why and Real Food for Mother and Baby.
Between the mid 1700s and mid 1900s, the 400 acres was farmed intact under successive owners. First likely a grain farm, from the mid 1800s to mid 1900s it was a dairy farm. A deed in 1860 conveyed from father to son land, buildings, and approximately 25 slaves, 25 work and driving horses, and a herd of Jerseys and Guernseys. The main house and dairy barn for the farm were located on 100 acres on the east side of Berlin Turnpike. They are used today as an equestrian center for individuals with special needs, Wheatland Farms.
Loudoun County, while substantially built up in its eastern half during the last 50 years, retains a swath of intact countryside in the west. The area supports a growing list of animal, vegetable, flower, and fruit farms in addition to conventional farms, growing corn, soybeans, and hay. The Loudoun countryside is also home to vineyards, breweries, distilleries, and bed and breakfasts.