BY JANE BLOODWORTH ROWE
VIRGINIA BEACH – Bart Frye has both a passion for preserving Virginia Beach’s rural heritage and a keen sense of business, and these two traits helped him earn the 2018 Excellence in Agriculture Award.
The Virginia Beach Excellence in Agriculture Committee presents the annual award to a member of the agricultural community who has made a significant contribution to the industry. Frye was recognized during a banquet at the Virginia Beach Conference Center on Thursday, March 14.
Frye, who owns Alpha Omega Farm on West Landing Road, received this year’s award for his contribution to the equine industry and his service on the Virginia Beach Agriculture Advisory Commission, a body that weighs in on issues affecting farming in the city and makes policy recommendations to the City Council.
Frye is an advocate for the city’s Agricultural Reserve Program, which helps preserve farmland.
“Bart Frye is a great fit and adds great value and diversity to the Agriculture Advisory Commission,” Virginia Beach Agriculture Director David Trimmer said in an interview.
As the owner of Frye Properties, a development and realty company that operates throughout the Southeast, Frye works about 60 hours a week in his Norfolk office and still finds time to oversee the care of his farm and horses. Sometimes, during polo season, which extends from late May to September, he has up to 21 horses there because he boards horses for polo players.
Frye grew up in Fairfax County. He never had the opportunity to ride as a child, but he become intrigued with polo after his aunt took him to a match on the Washington Mall when he was a little boy.
“That stuck in my mind,” Frye said, “and I also had a chance to see some polo when I was in high school, so I knew I wanted to learn polo.”
Frye moved to Virginia Beach in 1966. He bought 50 acres on West Landing Road in 1974.
“It was just a cornfield and woods, then” he said. “And I had zero money.”
Still, Frye pursued his dream of owning horses. He bought a Tennessee Walker, and he eventually learned to play polo. He founded the Virginia Beach Polo Club in 1987, and this remains the only polo club in Virginia Beach. His wife, Abby, also owns and rides jumpers.
Frye is on a mission to preserve the city’s farmland and rural culture for current and future generations.
He proved to be an outspoken advocate for the Agriculture Reserve Program when Virginia Beach City Manager Dave Hansen proposed ending that program last year as a budgetary measure.
“I believe in the program,” Frye said, who also believes that there is an economic and environmental benefit to preserving farmland. “I think it’s a good one.”
Agriculture is Virginia Beach’s third largest industry.
Frye said that the rural culture needs to be preserved for future generations.
“I think that children growing up should know what a farm is,” Frye said.
“He definitely has a passion for the community’s continued wellbeing,” said Diane Horsley, chairperson of the Agriculture Advisory Commission. “He is an avid supporter of the Agricultural Reserve Program, and his interests, questions and comments on topics involving agriculture make him a valuable member of the commission.”
Frye said that he was astonished to be recognized with the Excellence in Agriculture Award.
“When Mr. Cromwell came to my office, I asked him if he was lost,” Frye said, referring to Agriculture Advisory Commission Member John Cromwell, who told him of the award. “I asked him if he had a visa to get into downtown Norfolk.”
In addition to Frye’s award, the late Elsie V. Creekmore and her family, known for their family market at the Virginia Beach Farmers Market at Princess Anne and Dam Neck roads, was recognized with the 2018 Friend of Agriculture Award. And former Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms, who left office this past year, was recognized for his support of the agriculture industry.
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