For a lovely evening of romance, let us decorate your room with fresh flowers and provide a bottle of local wine to share from one of Halifax County’s three wineries, Bright Meadows Farm Vineyard & Winery, Greenwood Vineyards, Hunting Creek Vineyards. We’ll also provide cheese, crackers, fruit and hors d’oeuvres for your pleasure. Please ask for this $40 package when you book your room.
Stay with us while you take fascinating classes this spring at Hudson Heritage Farms, just 15 minutes away in Elmo. At the livestock farm’s Farm Studio, you can enroll in the following classes:
From the South Boston Gazette-Virginian: Oak Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast of Cluster Springs has been recognized as one of 21 Virginia Green Travel Star Award winners winning the title of Green B & B of the Year by the Virginia Green program.
Also receiving special recognition from the program is the Dark Skies Initiative by Staunton River State Park in Scottsburg tapped as one of the Most Innovative Green Projects of the Year.
In February, the Virginia Green program will present the Virginia Green Travel Star Award to 21 Virginia tourism businesses for their outstanding commitments to green tourism practices at the third annual Virginia Green Travel Conference and Travel Star Awards Celebration in Arlington.
We are pleased to be featured prominently in a “Stories from the Road” feature article in October’s Cooperative Living magazine. Writer Deborah Huso toured South Boston on her travels for the monthly publication about things of interest to rural electric customers.
She says: Mary Pickett Craddock, who operates Oak Grove Plantation Bed & Breakfast with her husband Mike Doan, also has roots here. The lodgings she now operates are in a house that has been in her family since it was built in 1820.
The rambling house reeks of history. The piano in the parlor was Craddock’s step-grandmother’s, and the room where I spent the night was added to the home in 1900 as her grandfather’s office. The home also features a lot of the handiwork of freedman Thomas Day. From the 1820s into the 1860s, he crafted everything from dressers to stairway banisters for houses all over south-central Virginia and north-central North Carolina. He crafted the mantel in one of the houses upstairs as well as the widow trim.
Craddock spent most of her childhood in the house, moving here at the age of 2 and not leaving until it was time to attend college. Her grandfather farmed the surrounding acreage, raising livestock and tobacco while also working as a shoe salesman.
But not everything here is historic. Behind the house is a 16-panel solar array that provides 25 percent of the bed and breakfast’s electricity. Craddock says the solar panels helped her earn Virginia Green certification for the lodging, which she has operated since 1988. She and Mike, a former journalist, still maintain a home in the metro D.C. area but spend summers here with poodles Niko and Bonnie. “Bonnie is the boss,” Craddock assures me.
We have tripled our solar output by installing two new ground-mounted panels behind Oak Grove Plantation Bed & Breakfast. Now solar power will provide three-quarters of the electricity to our inn, the rest coming from Virginia Power.
Not only are we saving money, we are trying to reduce our carbon footprint. Last year, we were listed as one of the country’s 14 greenest inns by bedandbreakfast.com.
Our 32 new panels were installed by Convert Solar and purchased as part of a group called Halifax County Solar Co-op. We were able to get discounted prices for our photo voltaic system by joining with other members of the community to purchase solar power. If your community would like to do the same, connect with VA SUN, A non-profit that helps communities in Virginia go solar.
Prices of solar panels are coming down, but it might be a good idea to act soon. The federal tax credit for solar installations expires at the end of 2016. And if you live in Virginia, it would be a good idea to press your local lawmakers to create a state tax credit, as well. Virginia has none, but North Carolina (eight miles from our inn) does.
Every year, a prized item at the Amazing Life Games preschool auction in Washington is a weekend trip to Oak Grove Plantation bed & breakfast. Pickett teaches there several days a week when she is not operating the inn from May to September.
The winner at this year’s auction, Kristen Degan, had a lot of good things to say about Oak Grove:
“We thought our B&B days were over once our kids came along, but this is a kid-friendly B&B!!!
“There are 3 rooms upstairs that are perfect for a large family and one bedroom downstairs that is perfect for a family of 3 or 4 (with kids on an air mattress). There are paths throughout the 400 acres for kids to explore, a train that goes under a bridge (that you can stand on while the train goes under!) really close to the house, an old cemetery, and a bunch of areas in the yard where grown-ups can sit and hang out.
“South Boston, VA is 4-5 hours from DC, but you can break up your trip with a stop at the Children’s Museum or the Science Museum in Richmond. Or you could combine a stay at Pickett’s with a stay in the Shenandoah Valley, breaking up the trip that way and avoiding traveling on 95.”
Adds this year’s preschool director, Deborah Kline: “I second Kristen’s recommendation! My son and I spent two nights at Oak Grove, and it was definitely a highlight of our summer.”
River boating is a popular sport in Halifax County, part of the Southern Virginia Wild Blueway. Children, fishermen and river rafters are just a few of the people who will enjoy paddling the easy-flowing rivers in this part of the state.
We’ve sent some of our visitors to River Traders, which rents kayaks and canoes at Staunton River State Park, just a half-hour from our inn. Experienced boaters can stop at the Route 360 bridge over the river, get their boats and have their car driven to the River Trader store in the park, where they can end their four-hour boat ride.
Less-experienced paddlers may prefer to rent the boats at the park and paddle around the Staunton and Dan rivers, just before the waterways enter Kerr Lake, also known as Buggs Island Lake. “The water has slowed down so much by then that you can even paddle up and down the river,” says owner Bob Bateman. His rates are $50 for a canoe and $40 for a kayak at Route 360 and $40 for a canoe and $30 for a kayak at the state park. Boaters should call him first to set up a time at 434-575-1022. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boating is also popular on Kerr Lake, Lake Gaston and the Banister River, especially where it runs through the town of Halifax. There is a landing at Kings Bridge for boating to Terry’s Bridge landing, past scenic undeveloped wilderness and an occasional egret and even bald eagle.
In such a rural area, there are no city lights to diminish your view of the skies. The planets and constellations that you can’t see in Washington or Raleigh are quite visible here.
You can do star gazing from our front yard to see the Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Orion or whatever else you want to view. But you can also go to a star-gazing program at Staunton River State Park, about a half hour from here. The park has teamed up with the Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observational Society (CHAOS) to offer star gazing programs on July 17 and Aug. 21 from 9 to 11 p.m. This is an opportunity to gaze at the night sky’s celestial bodies through high powered telescopes with the guidance of seasoned astronomers. The star gazing is held near the visitor center. Ask us for details.
Now let’s talk about the T— word, the one no one wants to talk about. But we will. Ticks are common in the woods of rural and urban communities, and one or two might try to latch onto you if you walk in the deep grass.
Hiking is one of the favorite activities on our 400-acre farm. We take care to be sure that our guests are not burdened by these crawling insects. In some cases, they are known to cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever and, mainly further to the Northeast, they can cause lyme disease. Harmless but itchy chiggers also roam in the grass.
–The three-mile trail is mowed regularly, keeping the grass pretty low.
–We advise hikers to wear long pants and tuck them inside their socks.
–We have insect spray that will deter most ticks. If you would like we can treat your pants overnight with tick-resistant spray
–At the end of a hike, we suggest that hikers check themselves for ticks. A shower isn’t a bad idea.
–If a tick is found, it is best to remove it with tweezers because fingernails aren’t always effective. Drop it in the toilet or a cup of rubbing alcohol to be sure it doesn’t latch on to somebody else.
–You can also just sit on the tick-free front porch and enjoy a glass of lemonade.
Don’t miss the Prizery’s Summer Theater, featuring the fabled “Wizard of Oz” with a score by Andrew Lloyd-Webber, and “Anything Goes,” with music by Cole Porter. Mike will appear as a preacher in “Anything Goes,” just a year after being a priest in “Les Miserables.” Is he being typecast? Maybe he should go to divinity school.
Starting this Friday (June 19), join Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and Toto as they travel the universe of Dorothy’s imagination. Over 20 collegiate and professional actors and technicians join a local company of more than 50 people to bring this classic 1939 MGM film to life on stage. Shows at 7:30 p.m. June 19, 20, 25, 26, 27 and July 2-3. And 2:30 p.m. June 21, 24, 28 and July 1. Additional information at www.prizery.com.
And beginning July 10, you can see Anything Goes, the age-old tale of Boy-Meets-Girl, featuring wonderful tap-dancing numbers and songs such as “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Blow, Gabriel, Blow,” “S’Wonderful” and “You’re the Top.” July 10, 11, 16, 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m., and July 12, 15 and 19 at 2:30 p.m.
Spend the night at Oak Grove Plantation, where you discuss the musicals with Mike and Arianna Jerome, a theater major who is staying with us.