Young Writer's Circle - Agritourism.Life
An Ecco of Italy
By McKinley Warhol
When the pandemic first took hold of the United States many people did many different things. Some decided to use this time to relax and take a break while others began new paths. And a new path is exactly what the Weatherly family paved when they decided to use this time and create something wonderful out of it. Once travel was affected by the new rules and regulations, Italy, the Weatherly’s happy place was taken from them.
Italy has always played a big role in their lives from getting engaged on a gondola to naming their children Italian names, there was no place like their home away from home. However, with Italy becoming inaccessible, they decided to bring a little of that happiness here when they found land that reminded them of Europe. Roping them in with the beautiful landscapes they knew that now was the time to create their own little Italy called Ecco Adesso. That means, “Here, Now” in Italian which perfectly represented their next beautiful chapter on this farm and soon to be winery.
I had the great privilege of getting to chat not only with the family but specifically with the children. Sienna is eleven and Mylan is ten who now split time between their home in Virginia Beach and the farm in Fairfield, Virginia. They grow grapes from their winery, farm fresh produce and open it to the public for tours and guest stays!
So this is all new, the winery and moving! Was this a pretty big change?
Mylan answered first stating “Yeah. It was a big change and made our lives different.” Which then led into telling me about their move. “We moved from Virginia and split time between there and the farm.” When asked which one they enjoyed more they quickly said the farm. “ -Because there’s more space and we're getting animals soon, and I like animals. I’m hoping to get a horse to train and ride it,” said Sienna while Mylan is most excited about getting sheep to become the family Shepard!
We talked a little about school and friends and how this has affected that aspect of their lives.
They are homeschooled who have a few tutors that help teach them along with virtual classes and independent study. On top of classes, they fill their time with chess, farming, Italian language learning classes, sports and helping with the family business. These guys have a handful of duties! Before the pandemic and the farm, they definitely had less chores and public school, but their social lives continue to be just as exhilarating, since all of the neighborhood kids they’re friends with at their home in Virginia Beach.
I heard you have travelled to Europe a lot, and that Italy is actually your family’s inspiration for Ecco Adesso. What’s one thing you saw in Italy that you want to see being replicated on your farm?
“Traveling to Italy every year was fun because I got to hang out with our friends there.” Mylan told me while Sienna jumped on that same answer. “I like going to visit our friends and eat all the food there because the food is really good and we could just eat all day.” I bet if I was in Italy, I’d say the same thing. The children are both continuing to also learn Italian with their Italian teacher who they skype with from Italy! Something they both said they see in the land in Fairfield is very similar to the countryside in Europe with the beautiful hills and grass. Sienna told me she loved the land but wanted to see more ivy. “In Italy all the buildings had lots of vines everywhere and I would love to see that here. With the vines growing up all of our buildings.” Sienna said, Mylan agreed.
What are both of your roles in helping with the new family business?
Both Sienna and Mylan have tons of small duties, more than I could list. From cleaning to gardening, helping build and tear down. Sienna helps mom with the cleaning of the houses, landscaping and Mylan gets down and dirty with the leveling of the land with dad. Mylan and Sienna even get to drive the tractor and a small four-seater golf cart! Another thing they are in charge of is working with our nation’s Veterans via a non-profit they started called “Vet First ''. They work with Vet First to grow produce, such as tomatoes and peppers and then donate it all back to the local food bank. Along with their parents' help, they donate any food they can from the farm to help the locals who need it most!
“What’s your favorite thing to help with?” I asked them. Sienna enjoyed helping her mom clean and prep the guest houses and Mylan enjoyed doing anything he can to help out his father.
I hear you are preparing to house sheep! Are you excited to raise animals?
Currently they aren’t hosting any animals except Tiny, their adopted cow who every once in a while wanders onto their winery from a nearby farm. The children got their first taste of livestock from this sweet cow they have made friends with! But they do plan on raising and keeping their own livestock such as chickens and babydoll sheep and, Sienna hopes, eventually horses. Both children are planning on being active in the farm animals' lives, helping with all the necessary duties from feeding to shoveling.
However, like all good things they come in time and the Weatherly’s don’t see themselves actually housing the sheep until well after New Year’s.
Do you see yourself working on the Ecco Adesso farm when you are older? If not, what do you see yourself pursuing in the future?
“I want to be a farmer on my family’s farm.” Sienna replied, being sure of her answer. Not to be biased but hearing that answer made me super excited to see what she will accomplish in the future if she really does continue to stick with agriculture. Mylan’s answer was just as heartwarming, as he wants to work tech with his father’s consulting company, staying close to the family. It’s so amazing to know that these children who haven’t even entered high school have set big goals for themselves and are dedicated to reaching them.
It’s truly amazing to see that they are extremely happy with the way things turned out and how it continues to affect their future.
Would you believe me if I told you this is where you’d be right now? Being interviewed for a magazine?
“No!” they both said. Honestly, who would be able to predict anything that has happened within the last year.
It’s quite beautiful to see how a somber situation was taken and made into a new opportunity! They lost the routine of Europe and Italy, but decided to bring that same joy and love into their winery in the heart of Shenandoah Valley of Virginia at Ecco Adesso! It’s easy to say I’m excited to see what these great young adults have in store for their future, not just for them, but for their community as well!