2021 was our 40th year in production and our last, we retired the end of April and we thank everyone who has supported us for all these years!
We arrived in North Carolina in 1980 with fresh degrees in Soils (Alex) and Forestry (Betsy) from Utah State University and with a dream to live in the country and farm. Just over a year later we had developed a plan, incorporated a business and purchased a piece of land, the adventure was on!
Neither one of us was from a farming background but we had parents that loved growing things and then cooking and eating them. We were also way ahead of the of local food wave. We were young, tough, not afraid of work and naive. In 1982 we planted our first crops, the plan was pick-your-own berries. Four acres of blackberries and raspberries with more to come. We had no money so we moved into a tent so we could be here to work and to save what little money we had.
There were few of us growing for local markets back then partly because there really were no local markets. In 1982 the now fabulous Carrboro Farmers’ Market was only in it’s 4th year. There was no Weaver Street Market or Whole Foods. The fine dining restaurant scene in Chapel Hill was just barely waking up with Bill Neal just having bought Crook’s Corner in 1982, leaving Ben and Karen Barker and Bill Smith with Moreton Neal at La Residence (The Neals had started La Res out at the Fearrington House Inn back in 1976 and moved it to town in 1978, more here on the restaurants we sell to).
From the beginning, as card carrying environmentalists having participated in the first Earth day activities in 1970, we wanted to manage this piece of land in the most responsible way possible. Organic was barely a word in the lexicon of the time, much less sustainable. Over the years we have, literally, worked to define what those words mean and then implement the practices that best support those goals.
Over the four decades we developed a small farming operation that was diverse, balanced and gave us a quality of life that renewed us, our community and the land.
For the last 20 years we raised crops on 2 acres of our 26, down from a one time high of 5 acres in production. There are no more raspberries or blackberries left. Our crop mix was very diverse with about 50 percent in vegetables and 50 percent in cut flowers. We do have a quarter acre of the best blueberries on the planet (sorry, no pick your own) and for 10 years we raised up to 100 turkeys a year for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
To get all of this work done, beyond ourselves being full time on the farm (a rare situation for both husband and wife to not have some off farm work), we typically hired two people each season. We were fortunate to have had excellent help for many years and are proud of the fact that nearly half of them have gone off to start their own operations.
Starting in 2019 we scaled down our operation to just one half an acre that Betsy and I could handle by ourselves as we were looking for more time off and less time in the heat, you can read all about our transition story here but 2021 was our last year in production and after that we will just be growing for ourselves and enjoying this beautiful place.
We also feel that it is important to participate in the larger farming and food communities. It is critical that farmers have a voice and be represented on the boards and organizations that will move agriculture forward to a more sustainable future. We have worked with many groups over the years, you can see some of our favorites here.
Throughout the website and the newsletter you will find more stories and pictures of the farm, it continues to be a great adventure!