Middleburg, VA (May 19, 2019) – More than 450 guests gathered on Sunday, May 19th in Middleburg to celebrate the Land Trust of Virginia’s (LTV) ongoing conservation efforts in the Commonwealth. The 21st annual Garden Party was graciously hosted by Mimi Abel Smith at the historic gem Hickory Tree Hall (formally Confederate Tree Hall) located at the legendary Hickory Tree Farm, a 300-acre Thoroughbred breeding, training and horseracing facility on a farm of rolling pastures and fabulous views. Susan Pope and Joseph Gargan are the stewards of this magnificent property. The event was an occasion to cheer the conservation of land and historic farms and to honor those proactive in conservation efforts. Attended by an array of supporters – easement donors, artists, conservation professionals, business sponsors, and others who share a passion for land conservation in Virginia, LTV’s annual Garden Party serves as the non-profit’s principal fundraiser for the year.
The Land Trust of Virginia broke all records for attendance and funds raised at this year’s annual Garden Party. “The huge success of this year’s event will enable us to do more of what we do … conserve land,” commented Sally Price. “We are so appreciative of the people who attended, who financially contributed as sponsors of the event, who donated auction items, who bid on auction items and who volunteered.”
The event featured a silent auction, awards ceremony, and “wet paint” auction, Painting for Preservation, in which accomplished local artists created works of art based on the gardens and scenes around Hickory Tree Farm. Artists included Anthony Barham, Misia Broadhead, Teresa Duke, Helen Hilliard, Laura Hopkins, Chris Stephens, and Lida Stifel. Final auction winners took home a beautiful fresh art piece as a memento of the event.
Hickory Tree Farm afforded the perfect venue. Pristine countryside and panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west and the Bull Run Mountains to the east provided guests with spectacular vistas and a wealth of natural beauty. The food catered by Pampa’s Fox Catering was unique and delicious. Slater Run Vineyards provided the wonderful wine and Old
Bust Head Brewery the beer, both perfect for the hot day. Floral Designer, Barbara Sharp and team did the spectacular flowers and guests were serenaded by local musicians, Mike Pollock and Patrick Callahan.
Each year, the Garden Party also serves as an opportunity to recognize people who have played an integral role in helping LTV carry out its mission. The Rev. Weston Mathews, pastor of Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains, opened the awards program with a blessing of the land and thanked all in attendance for “being good stewards of God’s creation.” After welcoming guests and thanking all for their attendance, Christopher Dematatis, LTV’s Chairman of the Board, presented one special recognition and three awards. Loudoun County Supervisor Tony Buffington was the recipient of the special recognition for his extraordinary commitment to the overall well-being of the people of Loudoun County and to the protection of Loudoun’s open space, clean air and water, and to the promotion of Loudoun’s rural economy.
The first award, Steward of the Year, was awarded to Stephen and Carole Napolitano, for their proactive approach to protecting their property and for the care they have taken to protect and enhance the water resources and farmland soils on their 59 acres and that they have diligently protected over the past 36 years.
The second award, Landowner of the Year, was awarded to Montebello Rosse Trust for their efforts to permanently protect Montebello. A 543-acre property in Orange County, the property has been in the Rosse family for generations and, without the conservation easement, could have been 250 building lots.
The third and final award of the afternoon, Conservationist of the Year for Leadership and Lifetime Achievement, went to Harry F. Atherton of Fauquier County and Al Van Huyck of Loudoun County; community leaders that have served their respective counties for decades, and have had a long and positive influence for conservation and responsible land planning in areas of Virginia that have been highly vulnerable for several decades.
The Land Trust of Virginia would like to sincerely thank all the individual and business sponsors, silent auction item donors, artists, Garden Party Committee members and volunteers who made the event a success. Additionally, LTV would like to thank the gracious hostess for the event, Mrs. Mimi Abel Smith and Susan Pope and Joseph Gargan of Hickory Tree Farm, for providing the perfect backdrop for a celebration of conservation. Additional photos from the event can be viewed below.
The Land Trust of Virginia is a private land trust that partners with landowners who voluntarily protect and preserve properties with significant scenic, ecological and historic value. LTV holds 175 easements protecting a total of 19,293 acres across 15 counties in Virginia.