Jonathan McRay is the co-founder of Silver Run Forest Farm, a riparian nursery and folk school that draws on the principles and practices of agroforestry, watershed health and restorative justice. Inspired to start Silver Run Forest Farm through the realization that he wanted to explore and cultivate health and justice in a place that he has a historical connection and responsibility to, Jonathan finds deep satisfaction in doing work rooted in care for the community and care for the land. Guided by values such as love, joy, patience, gentleness, and self-control, Jonathan approaches his work from a systems-thinking approach, recognizing the deep interconnections between the health of the soil, the health of the watershed, and the health of the community. He calls for food sovereignty so that the soil may be cared for, and the people caring for the soil may be cared for and restored.   

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The Soil, Conservation, and Place Project is generously funded and supported by a community viability grant from Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education and the Agua Fund. The project team includes Eric Bendfeldt, Mike Parrish, Kim Niewolny, Wade Thomason, and Maureen McGonagle from Virginia Tech and Virginia Cooperative Extension. The project team especially wants to thank the participating farmers for sharing their time, experiences, and insights with us and the broader community.