Tucked back in the countryside of Campbell County is an unassuming, 18th-century brick farmhouse with surrounding views that give a picturesque remembrance of days gone by. The Rockin R Wagyu Farm, owned by Roger Keese, has been in his family since 1946. His family moved to the Lynch Station area from Newport News and purchased the 180-acre farm to care for his grandparents in their sunset years. From a one-room schoolhouse in Leesville, he went on to graduate from Virginia Tech with a Bachelors's in Electrical Engineering and the University of Virginia with a Master's.
Once retiring from a prestigious, successful career, his hobby as a cattle farmer, beginning in 1967, became his full-time occupation. He now has 275 head of Wagyu, (Japanese cows) with his main market in Alaska. Over the expanse of 30 years, he has accumulated a contiguous partial of 23 farms now totaling 3,000 acres. He has dedicated this property to raising cattle, growing hay for feed, sustainably selling timber, and, recently, farming sunlight.
A year ago a project began by installing 368,000 solar panels over 800 acres of his property, of which only 90 acres were cleared. The panels accumulate 80 MW of power, the equivalent of 15,000 homes. A forward-thinking farmer, Roger stays interested and up to date with the latest advances in renewable technology and enjoys the benefits and convinces they bestow. He has seen the world turn from trucks that were rack and pinion steering to purchasing a self-driving truck because, he says, “I am getting older and I want to get in my truck and just tell it to take me to breakfast.” In these times when it is imperative that we are thoughtful in our consumption of non-renewable resources, men like Roger Keese have given us an example of how to use these technological advances for the long-term prosperity and the health of our planet.
By Darienne Skye Montgomery