In honor of Earth Day (April 22), Michelle and I spent this weekend not only attending the 13th Annual Piedmont Farm Tour, sponsored by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and Weaver Street Market, but spent Sunday volunteering at Hogan’s Magnolia View Farm. The Farm Tour is held every year to coincide with Earth Day and has its goal
to help connect you and your family with where your food comes from, who is growing it, and how it is being grown. Too often, when you ask children where food comes from, they say the grocery store. Only two generations ago, most people grew up on farms and took part in food harvests on a regular basis. It’s time to reestablish the connection between consumers and farming before it’s completely lost. Local and organic food systems are critical to preserving our natural environment and resources and to achieving socio-economic sustainability. We all, from farmer to consumer, play a role in creating a sustainable future for generations to come.
On Saturday we managed rather astonishingly to visit seven farms in five hours. We started by visiting John Soehner at Eco-Farm and Ben Bergmann and Noah Ranells of Ficklecreek Farm. I had visited both of these farms while taking classes through CCCC‘s sustainable agriculture program and later returned to Ficklecreek for a six-week livestock short-course as well as to help out during a farm tour for the CFSA conference. Since I had spoken so much and so highly about these places, Michelle wanted to see them for herself; I, of course, enjoyed getting to see them again as well. We also visited both Infinity Biodynamic Farm and Whitted Bowers Farm (a recent addition to the biodynamic scene). Biodynamic agriculture is holistic approach to farming that seeks to integrate all elements of a farm within a closed and sustainable system. Although associated with the anthroposophy of Rudolph Steiner and often critiqued for a number of reasons, many of the less esoteric practices of biodynamic agriculture have been incorporated into the Grow Biointensive system, which I find to be the best for our plans, so it is helpful to see some of the preparations and planting schedules in use. A little north we went to Captain John S. Pope Farm to see their collection of Dorper sheep, including several who had just given birth to lambs. Since we were in the neighborhood, we stopped at Ken Dawson’s Maple Spring Gardens (another farm I’d previously visited) to see his extensive vegetable production. And we finished off with a brief visit to Stanley Hughes’ Pine Knot Farm, a classic North Carolina yeoman farm that has transitioned to sustainable methods of growing and distributing tobacco, collards, sweet potatoes, and soy beans.
Our experience volunteering at Hogan’s Magnolia View Farm on Sunday was great, except for the rather hasty way in which we had to close a couple hours early due to the thunderstorm that rolled in and dropped an enormous amount of much needed rain. The Hogans have been farming this land since 1757 and presently they raise grass-fed beef cattle. They are also known, since the 1930s, as the home of the UNC mascot, Ramses. Most of the time Michelle and I simply greeted people, made sure they had their farm tour button or sold them one, answered questions, and enjoyed sitting in the sun and meeting the nearly 100 people that came to visit Hogan’s Magnolia View Farm.
Even though you’ll have to wait until next year’s farm tour to visit the farms (or take
Comparing Sustainable Agriculture Systems through Central Carolina Community College), you can still download the complete Farm Tour program and learn about great area farms to support. The CFSA website also has a great tool to help you locate local food.