Bunny Brundred met  Jim Murray during World War II  where she trained in the service as an aviation mechanic and attended Officer Candidate School. They married soon after they were discharged. In 1953, James and Jean “Bunny” Murray left  New York, and purchased a group of adjoining farms in central Virginia which they named Panorama Farm for its beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The farm sits on land that is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Jim ran a manufacturing business and taught at U.Va. and Bunny ran the farm, raised cattle, sheep and eight sons.

In its early years, Panorama Farms was home to a number of conventional farming enterprises of agriculture and livestock.  In 1996 they decided to rethink their vision for the farm. “We began looking at the farm as a resource,” says Panorama Pay-Dirt founder Steve Murray of the property he grew up on. “Out of that decision, came Panorama Pay-Dirt, Panorama Running, and Panorama Trails. We also lease hay-making and hunting rights.”

So far, so good. “Our efforts have made the farm sustainable into the next generation,” Murray says.

Hitting Pay-Dirt

Establishing the compost business and other alternatives to conventional agriculture has allowed the Murray family to preserve the beautiful 850-acre property as an agricultural enterprise. At the same time, they are recycling organic matter that would otherwise be headed for the landfill, and they are supplying area gardeners, landscapers, and farmers with a product that adds vital nutrients to the soil. “The response has been enormously favorable,” says Pay-Dirt co-founder Drew Murray. “My brother and I take pride in the TLC we put into our product, and our customers seem to appreciate it too.”

 The Farm is also the home course for the University of Virginia and Albemarle County High Schools’ cross country teams. Additionally, the Farm hosts the A.R.C. Natural History Day Camp for three weeks every summer.

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