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Longtime Market Vendor Dies After Car Crash

Shannon Donley, 48, operated Fertile Plains Meats at Reston, Herndon and other area farmers markets.

Shannon Clark Donley, a longtime vendor at theand other local markets,  died on may 3 following a car accident near Leesburg.

Donley, 48, of Shepherdstown, WV, operated Fertile Plains Meats. He had been a vendor at the Reston Farmers Market, which operates Saturdays at Lake Anne, for nine years. He recently also opened a stand at the Wednesday

Donley was a seventh-generation farmer, according to an obituary in the Martinsburg (WV) Journal-News.

He was also a certified lay speaker at Bethesda United Methodist Church at Molers Crossroads, WV, and a parishioner of New Street United Methodist Church in Shepherdstown.

Donley was a member and Past Master of Mt. Nebo Lodge No. 91 A.F. & A.M., member and past president of the Jefferson County Farm Bureau, member and past president of Jefferson County Farmland Protection Board and assistant coach for Upward Basketball's Thundering Herd.

He is survived by his wife of 15 years, Rene; two young sons, Tyler and Trevor; his parents, Pat and Joel Stickler, and Sam and Lane Donley; two sisters, Diana Bello and husband, Arturo, and Elaine Oliver and husband, Mark; one brother, Samuel "Neil" Jackson Donley III and wife, Barbara; two stepsisters, Linda Nicodemus and Susan Stickler Ramey.

in an August 2011 story in which Donley spoke with pride about the variety of fresh meats he offered.

“I [don’t use] steroids, growth hormones, antibiotics, or animal products on my animals," he said. "Our food is fresh and not mass produced. We take more care, and it makes a big difference. Our animals are all outside, and if an animal gets sick, it is separated from the rest until it is well again.”

This past winter, there was a groundswell of support from other farmers and community members after Donley and Fertile Plains were not invited to return to the Reston Farmers Market (but they were offered a spot at Herndon and Wakefield. All three are overseen by Fairfax County).

That decision was made by county authorities after it was determined that a certain percentage of Fertile Plains' meats came from outside sources.

Donely appealed the decision, maintaining that all meat brought to the market was raised by him. The county later rescinded its decision.

Donley died two days before the Reston market's May 5 opening.

"We observed a moment of silence to remember Shannon Donley before we rang the bell to open the 2012 Reston Farmers Market on Saturday," said John Lovaas, the co-market master.  "Shannon was a good man, and a valued member of our Market family for nine years.  He will be missed."

Family will receive visitors from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, May 11, 2012, at Eackles-Spencer & Norton Funeral Home in Harpers Ferry, WV. A memorial life tribute will be held at noon Saturday, May 12, 2012, with visitation one and a half hours prior to services, at the Eackles-Spencer & Norton Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Shepherdstown Elementary Association (SEA), 662 S. Church St.Shepherdstown, WV 25443 or the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Dept., P.O. Box F, Shepherdstown, WV 25443.

Sarah Lara-Allman May 10, 2012 at 09:39 PM
While I never met Mr. Donley, it seems as though, he was a fine person in many ways. I am saddened that such a person was suddenly and tragically taken from Reston, West Virginia, and this world. Perhaps it is a more appropriate time to remember his strengths and meaning in this world or to focus on the kinds of modern errors that cause such a tragic loss than to squabble publicly over what sounds like personal issues that really are not the focus of this article.
Scott May 10, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Sarah - I could not agree more with your sentiment; however part of the article was about how Shannon was mistreated at the Reston Market. Many of the comments are from those of us who came to Shannon's side at his request! What makes this so sad to us is he will be absent on opening day and for those of us who rallied to support his reinstatement it is very bitter pill to swallow and yes because of that emotions are running high.
Fran Lovaas May 10, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Thank you Sarah, you are right. We will be seeing Shannon's Mom at the Reston Market for awhile, starting May 19th, selling the Fertile Plains meats,
Annie May 11, 2012 at 12:59 PM
I'm sure that Shannon's many supporters will be dropping in on his mom to offer their support.
Diane Blust May 17, 2012 at 09:48 PM
All - I'd like to focus on the incredible work done day in and day out (nights, too) by the farmers who ferry their goods to the markets in Northern Virginia. They provide us with an alternative to industrial agriculture. They provide an incredible boost to our local economies. There may very well come a time when they are our only alternative to industrial agriculture - because of increasing transit costs, increasing agricultural input costs (all those fossil fuel based pesticides and fertilizers), or any number of external forces over which we in Reston have absolutely no control. So, please, support them at every turn - buy from all the farmers' markets within your reach. And, get in touch with Sustainable Reston at info@sustainablereston.org if you, like we, are passionate about local food and our local economy. We want to come up with a system that makes it easier for our farmers to get their product to us and has them logging fewer hours on the road. Shannon lost his life in a tragic accident brining food from West Virginia into the Washington Metropolitan area. Do you have any idea about the risks all our farmers run every day getting food to us? Let's work together to keep the food coming, the small, local food producers in business, and our precious farmers a little safer. Let us hear from you! We have ideas and we're betting you do, too.

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