Sarah & Cedric Shannon
963 Eanes Road NE, Check, VA 24072
Cedric Shannon grew up eating domesticated rabbit, specifically his Swiss mother’s Ragout de Lapin. Cedric started raising his own rabbits in his backyard while living in suburban Chicago although his wife, Sarah, did not originally share his culinary interest. In 2003, Cedric and Sarah moved their family of five children, one male rabbit and eight female rabbits south to Virginia. There, they established a farm that practiced holistic sustainable animal husbandry, land stewardship, soil conservation and composting.
Cedric’s parents, Ralph and Elsbeth Shannon, retired near the farm to be nearer to their five grandchildren and yes, rabbits. Rabbits are one of the most ecologically beneficial animals to raise. They require very little land for foraging on pasture or in the forest. The Shannons bought 56 acres that became Weathertop Farm, in partnership with Sarah’s brother and sister-in-law Sami and Marianne DiPasquale who live in Texas and participate in farm operations by assisting with business details.
On the Weathertop Farm chickens, pigs, turkeys, ducks and rabbits prosper without use of antibiotics or hormones. Their animals feed on pasture that has not been augmented with pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers.The chickens, once of age, are placed in10 foot x 12 foot pens that are moved daily to fresh pasture where they have air, sunshine, bugs, exercise and protection from weather and predators. The turkeys are raised similar to the egg-laying hens, out on pasture in a fenced-in area with a portable shed that is moved regularly.
The hogs love pasture too, eating grass, digging up roots and even eating some soil to obtain minerals. The rabbits are fed freshly-scythed grass twice daily. Cedric and Sarah admit moving the pens, sheds, and animals is tough work and takes time. Yet, they maintain, “We are excited to play our small part in rebuilding a more responsible and sustainable food system in our area. Local sustainability is no longer a concept adopted by a few. The number of people returning to good local food is steadily growing.”