“We’re pretty much held hostage of our own accord because we want to be watchdogging, watching our land,” she says.
“They don’t come down the drive,” Carolyn says. “They come through the woods, crossing the creek. … They just show up and start doing it.”
Carolyn, her husband Ian and her parents Betty and Dave co-own Four Corners Farm in Rocky Mount, Va. After living in Florida for most of their lives, Carolyn and Ian became tired of their unfulfilling jobs. So in 2010, they sold many of their possessions and lived in a camper with their four children for six months before settling on their new home and starting their community-focused organic farm with Carolyn’s parents.
The land holds a special place in the family’s hearts — three of the Reilly children were baptized in the creek behind their home.
In the fall of 2014, they received a phone call from land agents representing Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC, informing the Reillys of their plan to bury a 42-inch fracked-gas pipeline in the family’s creek and cut a quarter-mile swath through prime pasture 800 feet from the house.
When the company offered $50,000 for the pipeline’s right-of-way, the family refused.
“How does that offset the loss of property value for trying to sell?” Carolyn asks. “We still have a mortgage. It felt insulting.”
Instead, Carolyn became heavily involved with Bold Alliance, a nationwide nonprofit organization that advocates against fossil fuel projects.
On March 2, a federal judge ruled that Mountain Valley Pipeline can seize 300 people’s land, including the Reillys’, through eminent domain.
“They’re spending all this money now just tearing things up near communities and homes,” Carolyn says. “And there is no say in any of it for the people who will have to deal with it and live next to it.” — By Kevin Ridder