LEBANON, VA – FEBRUARY 20, 2024 – Primitive camping, dry cabins and renovated RVs are among the alternative overnight accommodations, Breath of Dawn, LLC will offer as it opens this year. The new business will also offer classes focused on backyard gardens, food preservation and sustainable living on 35 acres of what owner, Jessica Monroe, calls an educational homestead. A new pavilion will be constructed and will open in late spring 2024 allowing planned agritourism facets of the business to be shared along with the rich heritage of Southwest Virginia.

Breath of Dawn LLC was a recent recipient of a $10,000 Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Seed Capital Matching Grant. Seed capital grants are funded from regional funds received by VCEDA which are paid by the natural gas industry.

“Breath of Dawn LLC is unique in its approach to creative tourism,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “Focusing on agritourism, the new business, which projects four full-time and four part-time employees within five years, seeks to offer visitors to the region a way to experience elements of a working farm while also enjoying a getaway to the mountains of Southwest Virginia.”

“Whether you are an adventurer or just looking for some relaxation amidst nature, our area provides plenty of activities for all,” Monroe said in talking about her new business. “You can explore the trails in the nearby mountains, go kayaking in the rivers, or simply relax and enjoy the beauty of the scenery here on the homestead. There are also plenty of fun festivals and activities in the nearby towns.”

Monroe noted four primitive campsites are available now with more planned. An A-frame primitive cabin and a renovated RV are next up as power and septic amenities are completed.

Grading of the site for a planned pavilion and restrooms has been completed and the foundation piers have been dug for that project. Construction is expected to begin within the next month and completion is anticipated by the end of the summer.

Canning, crafting, cooking, foraging, gardening and sustainable living classes will be provided at the pavilion.

“We have several classes planned and a ladies camping retreat being organized for the fall,” Monroe said.

Additionally, four volunteer days, designed to give participants a taste of life on the farm, are also planned from 9 a.m. to noon as follows:

  • May 18 – Greenhouse build;
  • June 8 – Garden planting;
  • July 6 – Barn project build; and
  • August 31 – holler cleanup.

Monroe plans to use the VCEDA seed capital grant funds toward materials needed and labor for the construction of the new pavilion.

“To have that grant come through for me meant so much,” Monroe said. “I moved here because of the incredible views and the beauty of the seasons and I want to share that with everyone. The grant enabled me to build this so much faster than I would have been able to do and I am excited to share it all with others. Receiving the grant also showed me that others believe in what I’m doing.”

Ultimately, Monroe said her goal is to provide “a unique educational farming experience with a camping element where people connect with nature, their roots and the land.”

Monroe worked with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC) in developing her application to VCEDA and received a letter of support from the Russell  County Industrial Development Authority.

“The Small Business Development Center at Southwest Virginia Community College was pleased to learn that Breath of Dawn was awarded VCEDA’s $10,000 Seed Capital Matching Grant,” said Margie Douglass, recently retired SBDC program manager at SWCC, who worked with Monroe on her application. “The creativity that this working farm offers will provide a much-needed respite from the fast pace of city life for visitors; and the bucolic scenery and great hospitality that Jessica Monroe has to offer will draw visitors to the region for years to come. The SBDC is very pleased to have been a resource for Breath of Dawn.”

“Russell County IDA is excited to be able to support such a unique opportunity for our community,” said Ernie McFaddin, Russell County IDA executive director. “Breath of Dawn is utilizing their natural resources to showcase what Southwest Virginia and Russell County have to offer. The various opportunities from camping to dining and expansion of classes that will be offered takes our tourism opportunities to the next level. We are looking forward to seeing this project grow and expand.”

Breath of Dawn LLC is located 825 Moccasin Ridge Road in Lebanon, VA. The business may be reached at 276-880-8551 and may also be found at its website, www.breathofdawnva.com; or on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.

About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.

About the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority Seed Capital Matching Grant Fund: VCEDA region for-profit businesses, within qualifying business categories, one year and under with less than 10 full-time employees are eligible to apply for dollar-for-dollar matching grants up to $10,000 from the VCEDA Seed Capital Matching Fund. Applicants work with the Small Business Development Centers at Mountain Empire and Southwest Virginia community colleges to prepare the applications to VCEDA that include detailed business and financial plans. Businesses must be located in or plan to operate in the VCEDA region in southwestern Virginia that includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton.