Fauquier County is only about an hour from the nation’s capital but it feels like a different world— rolling hills dotted with vineyards, idyllic horse farms, and stifling regulations and ridiculous penalties meted out by capricious bureaucrats. Wait, what?
Well, I guess it’s not that easy to get away from it all. Martha Boneta, who owns a small local farm, found that out the hard way when she was threatened with $5,000 in fines for not getting the proper permit to sell produce and host 10-year-old’s birthday party on her property.
Boneta already had a business license the county issued her in June 2011 that allowed her to operate a “retail farm shop” on her property. Her license application specifically noted her intention to sell handspun yarns, birdhouses, soaps and other handicrafts in addition to fresh vegetables, eggs, herbs and honey.
The following month, the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors changed the classification of “farm sales” to require a special administrative permit for activities that were in compliance with the ordinance just one month before. But documents received under the Freedom of Information Act showed that Boneta is the only farmer in Fauquier County who has ever been cited — even though the county’s own website lists dozens of farms that sell similar products to end-use customers.