Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Going Local-Faith Family Farm

A couple of weeks ago,
the Master Gardeners were invited to a local farm tour.

heavenly harvest

Faith Family Farm is the labor of love
of a local family in Dallas, NC.
Andrea and Joel are two hard-working young folks
who aspire to create a self-sufficient lifestyle for themselves,
while encouraging others interested in sustainability.

Joel grew up in the farming arena,
helping his family run an apple orchard.
Although he took many different paths in his young adulthood,
he knew that farming was his destiny.
As he told us on the day of our visit,
"I'm a dentist by hobby, and a farmer by passion."

Every nook of his 30+ acre property exemplifies
his determination to work with the land
and provide for his family.
On the acreage, berries, nut trees, and a substantial orchard
hosting apple, cherry, peach, plum and a number of other fruit trees
are grown "beyond organically", in Joel's words.

Using methods from the film, "Back to Eden",
these farmers believe in using the wisdom of the land
to guide their growing.
Utilizing sheet mulching with cardboard,
no-till bed tending and permaculture practices 
are all a part of this farm's foundation.

A profusion of produce is grown here,
 including beans, carrots, corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes
and numerous other crops, all grown without the use of pesticides.

Joel is not shy with experimentation.
He considers everything he does in the garden
a learning process.
He is constantly tweaking his techniques
and researching better methods to be even more successful.

Some crops are grown in rows,
some in raised beds,
and just about everything in between.
There is no shortage of creativity here for growing food.

Joel considers the fundamental focus of the farm
to be educational.
He relishes the opportunity to share what he's learned
to ensure that others can find success.

One of the secrets to his fruitful orchard is a matter of outsmarting pests.
He has planted no two similar trees next to each other,
so as to make things as difficult as possible for insects.
If they prefer apples, they will have to travel to find them,
because in the next spot might be a plum or pear tree.

using twigs to space branches

Faith Family Farm hosts meat chickens as well as layers.
The birds are free roaming, 
and able to forage for insects throughout their designated area.
His birds are fed twice daily, using a ginormous game feeder
that is  programmed with a timer.
So many labor and time-saving approaches help them
to use their work hours efficiently.

Joel explained that the wood pile is placed inside the chicken coop,
so that the birds can take care of any pests that might be lurking.
Sheer genius, right?

This gorgeous raised bed kitchen garden
is near the house,
which makes it ideal for fresh-picked goodies 
for mealtimes.
The rock border looks stunning
and provides protection from erosion.
As with most projects here,
materials are gathered from the property.

  The generous use of compost, manure, and mulch
enable Andrea and Joel to grow all the veg they love.
They are working on plans for a CSA,
so that they can share their bounty with others.

Joel shared this almost-black tomato with a few of us.
It surprised me with its sweet flavor, and not a hint of acid!

Along with the many methods they are using,
Andrea and Joel shared with us 
that they have started a hugelkultur bed.
They loaded logs, compost and mulch in a pile
to decompose on its own and will plant in it at a later time.
I recently used this practice in one of my raised beds.

What a fascinating place to visit
and hear about the different ways farming takes shape,
all in one location!
So grateful to Faith Family Farm
for their willingness to keep the good stuff moving! 

 More in the Going Local Series:
Single Brothers' Garden
Cobblestone Farmers' Market
Red Wolf Farm
Mount Holly Farmers' Market 
Black Mountain Chocolates 

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