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Packing Up the Farm

Moutoux family is moving to Loudoun County and closing Tysons Corner orchard.

<bt>Next fall, another piece of Fairfax County's rural past will make way for its suburban present. The Moutoux Peach Orchard, 43 acres of rolling hills dotted with peach, apple and cherry trees on Beulah Road, will be turned into a residential neighborhood on one-acre lots.

Andy Gluck, a Reston resident who frequents the orchard, will be sad to see it go. He remembered cab rides home from downtown Washington, when the drivers would point out Tysons Corner high-rises and tell him about the orchards and ponds that once dotted the area. When he and his wife, Yvette, started going to the orchard about four years ago, they were excited to have found what they call an oasis. "We thought we'd found the one of the last little vestiges of what Northern Virginia used to be," Andy Gluck said.

"I'm very sad about it," said Kim Nelson, a Reston resident, who comes to the farm every summer.

The farm sits on land purchased in 1948 by John Moutoux, said Rob Moutoux, his grandson. John Moutoux had been a reporter for the Nashville News-Sentinel in Tennessee. "He brought the Scopes-Monkey trial to national attention," Moutoux said.

John Moutoux and his wife, Katherine, moved to Falls Church when he took a job with the federal government. While there, they purchased the property in Vienna. "It was a hobby farm for my grandfather," Rob Moutoux said. Currently, the farm has approximately 200 peach trees, 225 apples trees and 200 cherry trees.

IN THE EARLY 1950s, the Moutouxes opened a fruit stand on Arlington Boulevard in the Seven Corners area. In 1967, they began to sell from a stand on the farm as well. The family continued to sell from the stand in Seven Corners into the 1980s, Moutoux said.

John Moutoux died in 1979. Rob's father, Charles Moutoux, and his wife, Sue, took over the farm's operations. "My father was a NASA engineer,” said Rob Moutoux. "He did that and ran the farm."

Katherine Moutoux died last April, and the resulting estate issues have forced the sale of the land, Rob Moutoux said. "Between taxes and splitting the land, we can't hold onto enough land to hold onto it and keep it as a farm."

The family business will shift to an orchard they have been operating in Loudoun County, near Wheatland. Rob Moutoux and his fiancee, Lisa Jelenianski (the two are set to marry on Sept. 18), are the future of the business, he said. Rob Moutoux graduated from Marshall High School in 1998 and is currently its wrestling coach.

He went on to the University of Virginia and studied environmental engineering but rejected the suit-and-tie life. "This is a pretty good lifestyle," Rob Moutoux said. "I wasn't too keen on working in the corporate world."

ROB MOUTOUX is now enjoying his work as a farmer. "I think it's pretty important to have a connection to where your food comes from," he said.

The farm will remain open for the rest of this year, typically until the end of apple season in November, and will be open again for one more full year in 2005, starting with cherries in the spring.

Even after the sale, the Moutoux family's produce will still be available locally. They will be bringing their produce in and selling it at the Potomac Vegetable Farms, on Leesburg Pike not far from the orchard. "It will be hard to come back," Rob Moutoux said, who will also be losing the house where he grew up.

At the new location, Rob Moutoux said, the family plans to add plum and pear trees, and maybe berries, but all of that has yet to be decided. "The one thing that's certain is that we're going to be farming."

"I'll be sad to see it go," Andy Gluck said. "I guess that's just progress."