Sunday, we headed out for the second day of the Know Your Farms Tour. The weather looked a bit shaky, but we hoped for the best (and received it! The weather was perfect all day) I was nursing a hangover, but the promise of fresh soil and Zico pushed me on. First stop:
Windcrest Farm – Monroe, NC
Windcrest is a certified organic farm and greenhouse just up the road from Treehouse Vineyard, which was not on the tour but definitely worth a visit. They don’t grow meat, but they have donkeys and horses on the property to visit with.
Owners Ray and Mary Roberts Tarlton were super friendly. They didn’t have a whole lot of vegetables available, but I picked up a chocolate mint plant and Kelley and Jessica stocked up on herbs, seedlings and berry bushes. I’m coming for some of those blueberries.
A CSA (community supported agriculture) is a setup where you pay a certain amount, in increments or in a lump for the season, and receive a weekly box of farm fresh goods. I’m a fan of the idea. Windcrest has a very unique one: instead of receiving a box, $100 gets you $110 in “farm bucks,” which you can use to purchase whatever you want at market rather than a preselected bundle. They also have Learn and Grow classes and workshops at the farm! I’m definitely planning to attend at least one before summer is through. Next, we headed back up I-485 to…
Coldwater Creek Farm – Gold Hill, NC
I didn’t think anyone was going to top the food situation at Barbee Farms the day before, but this might have been the jackpot. King of Pops was onsite and I finally got to try one (herbes de provence w/ lemonade, because I’m fancy). Lenny Boy Brewery was handing out samples of kombucha and their Kentucky Creeper ale, which is pink and light and fizzy and gluten free and now I’m in love. Chef Michael Rayfield of the Ballantyne hotel whipped up a whole mini-menu of shrimp and grits, bloody mary oyster shooters (quite welcomed considering my circumstances), and strawberry-rhubarb salad with roasted feta cheese. Turn. Up.
Coldwater Creek is operated by longtime friends Brad Hinckley and Eric Williamson. Brad was our guide and I was surprised that the old tractors that I was photographing were the actual equipment they use. They’re all organic and their planting and harvesting are all hands on. It was a really nice, long, incredibly informative walk. We tasted peas and strawberries straight from the fields, and Kelley got to field test the all-terrain capabilities of Palmer’s fancy stroller. One benefit of doing the tour in a big group is all the questions people asked. Now I know exactly when to harvest my garlic. Or I will, once I grow it.
I snagged some radishes, lettuce greens and swiss chard. I didn’t know that you could eat radish greens, but now I do. So I will.
Commonwealth Farms – Concord, NC
Jessica surprised us with our last stop – it’s a flower farm! They also grow herbs and small amounts of specialty produce, but for the most part Commonwealth is a beautiful, rambling assortment of blossoms in various stages of bloom. It was the perfect way to end the day and begin the week. Many of the local restaurants that use edible flowers get them from these guys.
We learned a bit about solar energy and the farm’s unique methods of saving on electricity — like storing cut flowers in the “CoolBot,” a walk-in deep freezer constructed from a standard AC unit. I went home with a baggie of milkweed seeds to spread around my backyard. I’ve gotta do my part to save the Monarchs. You should, too.
And then I went to Trader Joe’s and finished my groceries for the week!
I definitely recommend filling the tank up and gathering friends, and getting to know your local farms on your own. If you’re new to the whole concept, head to your nearest farmers’ market and just start talking to people. It’s fun!
This post is hella long, so I lied about sharing the recipes. That’ll happen tomorrow, which is fine, because Thursdays are my recipe days anyway. Ciao!