Every year we do a farm tour. This is a great chance to meet the farmers and see the farm. We’ll show you our work in progress and talk about how we do regenerative farming.
Farm tour includes
– detailed tour (family friendly) – 1/2 lb of honey from our remote mountain location of Troublesome Gap, NC
What to Bring
Just bring yourself and your family and comfortable shoes. We plan to walk on grassy fields and uneven ground.
We are Dirt Farmers and Pesticide / Insecticide Free
If we grow good dirt, then plants will grow and produce abundantly. We use a minimum of organic fertlizers. We avoid the use of synthetic fertilizers. We also don’t use any pesticides or insecticides. We do use natural amendments like woodchips, hay (pesticide / herbicide free) and feather meal.
Diversity of Plants and Trees on the Farm
Let us introduce you to some of the variety of plants, bushes and trees on the farm including
Row Crops – garlic and onions – potatoes – moringa
Fruit Bearing Trees – mulberry – hazel – black walnut – figs – olive – persimmon – paw paw
The love of farming and gardening often spans generations. This is true for our family. We have 3 generations that that currently grow fruit bearing vines, bushes and trees. Our family has 4 properties with fruit bearing bushes, vines and trees to prune and trim. During the month of February we have trimmed:
various fruit trees
There were a few years where some of my mom’s grapevines and blueberry bushes didn’t get the attention they needed to we have been working to get them in better condition.
It was a great way to spend time with family. Thanks to my family for letting us enjoy that time together.
February is shaping to be a month of blueberries. We took a class in pruning blueberry bushes last weekend. Seems like there is a always something new to learn. This weekend, on a gloriously nice Saturday (mid 70s), we are pruned our blueberries at the farm. Next up is blueberries at my bonus child’s house (he has a bunch), then doing the grapevines and blueberry bushes at my parents house. Finally doing the blueberries at our home.
Blueberry bushes need to be pruned in the winter. February is the last opportunity until next Fall. Blueberries are a native plant but do much better (from a production standpoint) when they are properly pruned. A properly pruned blueberry bush will produce bigger and tastier berries than one that isn’t well maintained. The blueberry bushes at the farm were planted last spring, so it will be a year or two before we have a crop of blueberries from them.
We’ve pruned the blackberries at the farm. Next step with the blackberries is to prune them at the house.
If you want your own domesticated blackberry plants, we will have thrornless blackberrry plants in mid March. These will be ready to plant. Contact us if you want plants or want to learn how to prune your blackberries.
Another bit of good news is that at least one of our olive trees looks like it made it through the winter.
The elderberries have started to bud out. The diakon cover crop went through a winter kill with the cold weather. The clover cover crop is growing very slowly but should really take off as the weather warms up in March. It won’t be long before it is time to plant onions, potatoes and rotate cover crops.
The bees were very active today. Spring will be here soon.
Come join us for a fun and educational event where you can learn all about planting potatoes! Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, this in-person event in Bennett, NC, USA is perfect for anyone interested in growing their own potatoes.
During this hands-on workshop, our farmer will guide you through the potato planting process. From cutting up seed potatoes, preparing the soil and planting potatoes, you’ll gain valuable knowledge and practical skills to grow a bountiful potato harvest. You’ll actually get to work in the soil to get potatoes in the ground and ready to go.
This class starts out by planting potatoes. Following class sessions allow you to learn by doing and helping maintain the potatoes you helped plant. There will be 5 sessions between the inital date and harvest. If you come to 3 of 5 sessions (including the intial day), then you are invited to join us for the harvest day (late May / early Jun).
Discover how to plant and care for your own potatoes. Don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity to dig into the world of potato gardening!
Important note: if weather causes a delay, we will reschedule the next weekend (weather permitting)
Daikon (sometimes call field radish or mooli) is a large radish of Japanese origin. We use it as a cover crop on the farm. The daikon helps in 3 ways:
keeps roots and plant life active in the soil over the fall and winter months. This helps keep the soil biologically active. A good farmer first grows soil. If you have good soil then you can grow great plants that are full of nutrients
the tuber sinks down into the ground and helps keep the soil from compacting while expanding the soil at the location where the tuber is growing
acts as a bioaccumulator that takes into nitrogen from the process of photosynthesis and stores it in the tuber
This spring we will terminate the cover crop, leaving the tuber in place to compost over the summer returning the nutrients to the soil. We avoid the use of synthetic fertilizer and cover crops are a big part of making that possible.
Thanks for checking in with what is happening at the farm.
This time of year, I tell myself that we have put the farm to bed for the winter. I think saying that belies the actuality that some of the plants keep growing, albeit slowly. Also, it makes it easier to take a break from working on the farm. The downtime is valuable for us farmers.
The garlic is doing well . In the picture below you can see places where weeks are starting to poke through the hay. The next step with the garlic is to put down more hay to help supress weeds. I like growing garlic. It is easy to grow and low maintenance since most of the growing occurs in the winter when most of the weeks have died back.
I hope that you can use to winter months to rest, refit and recharge. Spring will be here before we know it.
Elderberry plants are robust and easy to grow in most of NC. The umbrals are easy to harvest. The flowers and the berries have many healthy uses. We have found that many people don’t realize the healthy benefits from elderberries growing in the ditch that they drive by every day on the commute to and from work. However, a surprising number of people take a teaspoon of elderberry syrup every day during the fall and winter to help fight off colds.
Elderberry is a plant of contrasts. Join us and walk through some of these contrasts. Let us share what we have learned by growing this amazing plant.
Elderberries grow wild in NC, usually on a ditch bank or in wet soil. They are everywhere, but many of the wild plants are in locations that are hard to reach at the time of harvest. If you enjoy foraging, then consider adding elderberries to your summer foraging retinue. The berries you harvest will be worth it.
Elderberry plants spread along the ground and a row of elderberry plants tends to be come a hedge. If you plan ahead, it is easy enough to manage the hedge by mowing and just have to prune once a year when the plants are dormant. If you were to plant your elderberries in the middle of an area where you can’t mow around them to control spread then you might have a difficult time managing them. They can be invasive, but if you plan ahead before you plant them it really isn’t a problem.
Harvesting elderberry umbrals is straight forward. Removing the berries from the stems can be a challenge. Some of the ways to remove berries from the umbral are easier than others. At some point in the future, it would be great to add a destemmer to the equipment we use on the farm.
This year we have making different elderberry products including:
infused elderberry honey
liquid of elderberry
freeze dried liquid of elderberry
freeze dried elderberries
It is really cool seeing the dark, dark and luxurious purple liquid that comes from the elderberries. Especially knowing all the health benefits in the liquid.
Growing and processing elderberries has been a wonderful learning experience. We’ve enjoyed teaching how to grow elderberries in hands on classes. Thanks for letting us share with you.
We did our test batch of elderberry syrup and an oxymel this week.
We started with frozen elderberries from the farm. They went in the steam juicer for 40 minutes. The steam juicer pulled the eldeberberry juice out of the berries and allowed us to drain juice into a pot. We added ginger and clove to the juice and then simmered the juice to reduce the volume in half.
We then strained the mixture to remove the pieces of ginger and clove. The next step was to let it cool before adding the raw honey from the farm. We want to make sure we don’t heat the mixture above 105-110 degrees F. This helps preserve the benefical qualities of the raw, local honey.
You can see the dark color of the syrup, even after we mix it with the honey.
The next step was to pour the syrup and honey mixture into jars for elderberry syrup.
We also made an elderberry oxymel. The oxymel is approximately 1/3 apple cider vinegar. So we added the vinegar to the jars and then filled jar with the elderberry syrup mixture. The oxymel has a longer storage life in the refrigerator because of the vinegar and a different taste.
Both of the concoctions have a strong amount of elderberry juice. This helps maximize the health benefits of the elderberries. Both the syrup and oxymel need to be refrigerated.
We hope to have a limited run to jars available for sale around 9 December 2023, just in time for Christmas.
We plan to have a booth at the Sanford Farmer’s on Saturday, Nov 11th, 2023. Come join us and grab some of our wonderful honey! The market is open from 8:30 AM – 1 PM. The address is 115 Chatham St, Sanford, NC 27330, USA
If you can’t make it to the market, we can ship honey or you can do a porch pickup in Sanford. Click on the image below to place your order.
Office: Sanford, NC
Pickups: Sanford, NC
Email us to arrange a pickup
Office: Sanford, NC
Pickups: Sanford, NC
Pickups Only: Email for availability
About This Site
My wife and I love spending time outdoors. Having a farm and garden is a great way to do that. It also means we have more nutritious foods. Many of the people we have met on this journey like similar things and that makes it even better. I’m a mechanical engineer turned weekend farmer, so I’m just smart enough to know that there is a lot that I don’t know especially when it comes to farming, permaculture and food forests. Come on the learning journey with us!
We would love to share what we are learning so that you can grow at least part of your own food. It is within your grasp to grow part of the food that you eat. You can improve your food security and enjoy higher quality food in the process.
We also have limited opportunities for you to camp out on our farm, enjoying the serious peace and quiet. Sometimes we hold classes, usually on Food Preservation. Join us for those too.
Meet the Farmers
I’m a mechanical engineer turned weekend farmer, so I’m just smart enough to know that there is a lot that I don’t know especially when it comes to farming, permaculture and food forests. I’ve been heavily influenced in my love of farming and permaculture by my Mom and Dad and also by people like Jack Spirko (TSP) and Dan (Plant Abundance)
Connie has her certificate in Sustainable Agriculture from CCCC. She really enjoyed the classes at the community college and learned a lot. The program was a mixture of classes and work on the school farm. What she learned has really added to our technical proficiency on the farm.