The County is under continued pressure from multiple sources both to preserve and develop our undeveloped areas. James City County has significant rural lands (64% of the land area is timberland, and 6% is farm land) and has experienced rapid population growth (an increase of 162% since 1980). Situated between Richmond and Norfolk, the County has easy access to productive farmland, transportation hubs and large metropolitan populations. Growing our economy, protecting community character and preserving our productive farmland and timberland are not mutually exclusive goals. With this project, the County hopes to demonstrate the economic value of agriculture and timbering, provide viable alternatives to residential development in rural areas, and consider incentives to keep the land in productivity. With a deliberate approach to rural economic development, the County can make better decisions about allocating resources and establishing priorities to grow and expand the economic viability of agriculture-based industries.
Agricultural & Forestal Districts and Purchase of Development Rights
James City County currently has land use value taxation for agriculture lands and timberland, Agricultural & Forestal Districts (AFDs), and Purchase of Development Rights (PDR), all aimed at the same goals. These goals include the preservation of land, including prime farmland and timberland, as well as extensive Resource Protection Areas (RPAs), aquifer recharge areas, and headwaters for important watersheds.
Dream Catchers is a PATH International premier accredited center serving Williamsburg, the greater Hampton Roads and Richmond areas. Each year, Dream Catchers provides more than 4,000 therapeutic riding lessons to help children and adults with special needs reach their potential and make their dreams come true. James City County is also home to Stonehouse Stables, a hunt seat equestrian center. For 15 years, they have provided lessons, boarding, sales and trails with a reputation for excellent horse care, exceptional lesson and trail programs, and family friendly atmosphere.
Eco Discover Park
James City County finalized a new contractual agreement in 2011 with Eco Discovery Park to continue operation of the Jamestown Marina. The new management company is also in the process of developing an environmental education park area to encourage eco-tourism while promoting adventure and outdoor recreation.
Farmer’s Market at Merchants Square
Located in the neighboring City of Williamsburg, the Farmers Market at Merchants Square is one of the largest and most popular markets in the eastern half of Virginia;
GoApe! opened an adventure course in the County in 2012 that spans seven acres and features five ziplines, and a series of rope ladders, bridges, swings and trapezes. The course, which features more than 37 obstacles in the forest canopy, was expanded in 2013 to provide a course for children aged 5 and up.
Approximately 83 miles of shoreline in the County is attributed to the James River and its associated tributaries, with another 17 miles of shoreline in the York River watershed.
Jamestown Settlement highlights, among other historical information related to the Jamestown Colony, farming products and techniques used by colonists.
James City County is home to KelRae Farms, which has a very successful Community Supported Agriculture service (CSAs) with produce grown on site.
214 acres and one of the oldest continuous farms in the nation, is located in the County. The farmer who leases the property has won awards for his corn yields. In 2012, he won first place in National Corn Growers Association No-till/Strip-till category with a yield of 384 bushels per acre. He is also renowned nationally for his positive impact on water quality.
In 2012, the James City County Economic Development Authority hosted a Rural Caucus, pulling together over 30 individuals representing the above assets to discuss ways to collaborate further.
Virginia Gourmet opened a manufacturing facility in the last 12 months to process locally produced food. They produce their own applesauce (under the Mrs. Bryant’s label).
Virginia Packing, a co-packing facility, opened in the last eighteen months. Their sister company, La Tienda, imports specialty hams from Spain, then slices and repackages them for distribution. Other companies have approached them about opportunities, but they don’t have the capacity to serve those outside companies.
Williamsburg Community Health Foundation
The Williamsburg Community Health Foundation’s School Health Initiative Project (S.H.I.P.) was created in 2006 to address children’s health issues resulting from poor diets and lack of physical activity. SHIP is a partnership between the Foundation, which provides funding, and Williamsburg-James City County Schools, which administers the program. School gardens are part of this effort throughout the district.
The 300 acre farm, known as Wessex Hundred, is home to The Williamsburg Winery, located in James City County. Their Governor’s White is the best-selling Virginia wine in the state.