There really is a Farmville

Published 7:01 pm Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Recently a radio team from the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) visited Farmville to gather information for “a programme to be broadcast to 44 million listeners globally.” After stopping in Washington D.C., the team came to Farmville “to record the flavour of a rural community.”

What did these visitors see when they drove into our town?

I’m sure they noticed that Farmville has much to offer — that’s what brought our family here 36 years ago.

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At the time we were living in Virginia Beach, where my husband, a career naval officer, was stationed. While we enjoyed our attractive neighborhood and all the “good life” had to offer, somehow it wasn’t enough.

We discovered Farmville in 1979 and moved here in 1981. A few years later, I shared my impressions of Farmville in a book, “Yes Virginia, There Really Is a Farmville.” I chose that title because friends in the city doubted that there really was such a place.

The book’s introduction began, “I often observed my urban neighbors, passing each other like ships in the night, intent on reaching their own island of safety and security. Something was missing here, something we needed but didn’t know where to find.”

We found that “something” one day in the mailbox — a catalog from Landon Atkins, Realtor, Farmville, Va. We liked their slogan, “We Sell the Earth.”

The next weekend as we drove to Farmville, we prepared a scorecard for the perfect small town. First and foremost we wanted a sense of community, a place where people talked, smiled and waved to one another. In Farmville we found that and more. Shortly after our first visit we purchased property at Elam and soon discovered that it became increasingly difficult to go back to the city.

The words I wrote 30 years ago still apply, “Even when the inevitable changes begin to occur, I doubt that anything will ever destroy the real heart and soul of this place. Farmville, Virginia, like so many other small towns across America, is more than a dot on a map. It is the center of a community of involved, caring people.”

If the BBC team was looking for “flavour” they came to the right town.

MARGE SWAYNE is lifestyles editor for The Farmville Herald. Her email address is