SURRY COUNTY, Va. -- Nestled in the heart of Surry County, miles from the big city bustle, Michael and Amy Drewry take pride in working their land. From sun up to sundown, the Drewrys' long to-do list ranges from nurturing newborns calves to selling strawberries.
"Our quality of life is quite high. We pretty much eat off of the farm," Amy Drewry said about their 400-acre farm. “We love animals. My husband loves animals. He feels it is not a farm without animals."
An attorney by trade, Michael is shouldering centuries of family tradition. Michael’s ancestors have been farming in this area since the 1600s.
“To do this you have to think of this as a lifestyle and not really work,” Michael said. “I work all of the time but I don’t call it work. This is my golf!”
Farm life has its advantages, especially during a pandemic.
“We isolate most days anyway,” Michael said.
But the impact of COVID has weighed heavy on Michael and Amy.
“We’re such a small rural community we know people who have died,” Amy said.
This growing season, the Drewrys are growing a different crop. One seed this couple has never sown before.
“Everyone of these flags represents a family grieving. A person lost,” Michael said.
Michael and Amy started cultivating a couple of acres in December.
“What I would do is place the flag down and think this is someone’s mother. Place another flag down and think this is someone’s father,” Amy said.
Right along Route 31, for all to see, sadness is sprouting.
“As the pandemic dragged on we felt like we couldn’t sit around and do nothing,” Amy said. “When you see it on a scale like this then it becomes real.”
Their field of flags is yielding depressing gains. A vivid reminder of the Virginians lost.
“As I am planting a flag, I remember this is a person who got sick. Had a family. Went to the doctor. Nurses nursed them through the illness. Undertaker put them in the ground. Every flag,” Michael said.
With Commonwealth’s COVID death toll topping 10,000, the Drewrys stay busy.
“This county is not very big, but the nine victims I know them all,” Michael said.
Every few weeks Michael and Amy add a few more rows.
“The first thing I think of when I turn into the driveway is, 'look at the beautiful colors.' But then I think, 'oh yeah each one is a person,” Michael said.
Their pasture of silent sentinels in full bloom. It is one crop these farmers never hope to harvest again.
If you would like to see the Drewrys' field of flags up close it will be standing for a few more weeks.
Drewry Farms is located at 541 Strawberry Lane in Wakefield, Virginia.
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