Fun and Surprises on the Eastern Triangle Farm Tour

Homestead Harvest Farm in Wake Forest, NC

Reprinted with permission by Elizabeth Mann of elizabethssecretgarden.blogspot.com/

Homestead Harvest Farm

My family went on the 2013 Eastern Triangle Farm Tour, which is put on by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. To learn more or buy tickets to this year’s tour, happening Sept. 20-21 visit https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/etft.

Our first farm tour was Homestead Harvest Farm. The field is 6 1/2 acres, but the entire property is 20 acres. Jan Campbell did cancer research before she started working full time on the farm. She participated in internships and classes to gain knowledge. Her love for the farm and pride in her animals was evident as she discussed the farm’s history and facts about animal raising.

The chickens are raised free range and feed on the pesticide-free lawn. They are treated with the utmost of care without the use of antibiotics. Chicken tractors on wheels are scattered about the field. They are moved around as the animals are ready for fresh grass. The farm also has ducks, turkeys, and pigs.

Chicken tractor

As you can see, the chicken tractors can be moved manually by pushing back against the wall. Wheels make for easy transport. Canvas is put along the bottom of the frame to help keep out smaller predators like weasels.

Turkey watching chickens

The turkey seemed to be guardian of the chickens. He kept a watchful eye on us as he pranced about the chicken tractor. His feathers were spread out and his overall stature was conducted for the purpose of showing off. His face was blue from holding his breathe and a flap of skin known as the snood was elongated as he held his breath.

Turkeys

Mr. Turkey’s family were a moody bunch. They were making all sorts of noises. We learned that cloudy weather makes turkeys a bit scatterbrained. You learn something new every day!
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Pig chasing ducks

Time for a game of tag! I love to capture funny moments and this was one of them. Who knew that pigs and geese make good companions for playing tag?

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Pigs are social animals and like to be around other pigs and apparently they like having geese around too. When feeding time came it was a battle to see who could get to the food first. All manners and proper etiquette are tossed aside when food is brought into the scene. The smallest piglets struggled to get their share. There were a couple of pigs who were only a week old and had yet to learn that there was an electrified low wire. Suddenly, we heard a loud squeal as one of the piglet’s tail brushed up against the thin wire. I’m sure the young ones will learn quickly.

Pig's expression

The expression of a hungry pig!

solar panel

The electric fence is solar powered.

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The not so bright side of chicken raising, but essential for producing meat. I will keep this brief for the sake of those who are sensitive to this topic. The picture to the left is where the quick process of slaughtering takes place. The picture to the right is where the de-feathering is done. It is a Whizbang Chicken Plucker. At 160 degrees Fahrenheit, it only takes a few minutes for the feathers to come off. Two chickens can be put in at a time.

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Pork and chickens being stored in the freezer until they are sold.

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I thought this was a nifty gadget. It is a washing hands station.

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Well, that concludes this blog entry on Homestead Harvest Farm. I’ve taken you from chicken to the final harvest process. You can contact Jan Campell at HomesteadHarvestFarm@gmail.com

United States book cover

Homestead Harvest Farm is included in my third book! This book contains 38 tours of state parks, national parks, gardens, butterfly conservatories, and farms. Each tour page contains photos, facts, and a personal review of the attraction. My photography helps make the pages come alive. Pictures from places such as Sarah P. Duke, the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Conservatory at Callaway Gardens, and even the Butterfly Rainforest at Florida University all contribute to making this book exciting and one of a kind. My book is available on Create Space. Please click the Facebook “Like” button to show your support of my writings.
https://www.createspace.com/4583290
You can also find me on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elizabeths-Secret-Garden/200110980006101

Guest post: Reflections from a 2013 SAC Scholarship Winner

Guest post by Khristi Nunnally
Originally posted onColored Egg Homestead blog

 

Recently I received notification that I was chosen as a recipient of the William W. Dow Memorial Beginning Farmer & Rancher Scholarship offered through the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.

This scholarship will allow me to attend the 28th annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference this November in Durham, NC. I feel enormously blessed to have been chosen to receive this gift.

Who was William W. Dow?

William W. Dow, or Bill as most called him, was a pioneer in organic farming. He was a former physician who believed he could do more good growing vegetables than dispensing medicines. While I never got the pleasure of meeting this man, I know in my heart that I would have really liked him. His dedication and passion for organic farming and local food is overwhelming. His legacy will certainly live on for generations.

“This past December, we lost an organic farming pioneer when Bill Dow passed away.  Bill believed passionately in local, organic food and farming, which practically did not exist in the late 1970s when he started Ayrshire Farm in Chatham County, NC.  Bill was a trailblazer – setting up Farmers’ Markets across the Southeast, including the Carrboro Farmers’ Market, and being one of the first farmers in the Carolinas to achieve organic certification – all before local and organic was in demand” (source: here)

 

 

 

Read more about Bill Dow here.

The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association established the William W. Dow Scholarship fund to honor him and to recognize the high standard he set for the current generation of sustainable farmers. Bill believed that in order for today’s beginning farmers to continue to grow a vibrant, sustainable local food system, they would need training, networking and mentorships. The Sustainable Agriculture Conference is the premier forum for networking and education for local and organic agriculture.

 

Thank you Bill for leading the way to a more sustainable farming future for so many of us. I am looking forward to having the chance to attend this conference in your honor. I hope that I can be a sponge and absorb as much information as I can to be one step closer to cultivating the farm I’ve been dreaming of.

 

If you would like to donate to the William W. Dow Scholarship fund click here

Or by check to:

CFSA
PO Box 448
Pittsboro, NC 27312

 

 

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Pre-Conference Workshop: Hands-On Permaculture Design Intensive

 

by guest blogger Mitra Sticklen

 

Friday afternoon I attended Will Hooker’s Hands-On Permaculture Design Intensive. As a professor at North Carolina State University http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/agcomm/magazine/fall08/college.html, he offers permaculture design courses including online courses and especially hands-on design practice and instruction. Check out his urban permaculture website about his Raleigh homestead: http://web.me.com/will_hooker/610Kirby/Welcome.html. If you’re familiar with the book Gaia’s Garden by Toby Hemenway, you already know Will’s homestead – it’s featured on the book’s cover! He began the workshop with a brief powerpoint presentation about permaculture foundations, design process, and case studies before launching into an open and free-flowing design session.

 

After reviewing the permaculture principles he uses as a designer and educator, Will focused on the four concepts we’d be using throughout the workshop:

1. relative location

2. each element performs many functions

3. each function supported by many elements

4. energy efficient planning by permaculture zones http://permaculture.wikia.com/wiki/Zones_%28Permaculture%29

 

We compared the standard scientific process (observe, hypothesis, test, analyze results, conclusion) to the process that Will uses (see Kober & Bagnall’s The Universal Traveler, below for resources)

 

1.     accept responsibility

2.     analyze -> wild energies (sun, shade, slopes, water, wind, noise, light, great and undesirable views, wildlife, fire, kids

3.     define problem / design program

4.     activities/food/water/shelter…

5.     ideate/brainstorm (bubble diagrams, schematic designs)

6.     choose (preliminary planning)

7.     implementing

8.     evaluating

 

During a brief ‘show and tell’, Will shared a few case studies from his work and practice and travels. Examples included:

 

 

Then we began working on our own projects. Will asked us to take out our maps and schematics of the land we’re designing. He guided us in brainstorming our “program elements,” i.e. the list of things you want the space to DO for you or your community. What are your GOALS? Examples of program elements could include saving seeds, growing vegetables, teaching groups, making music, hosting bonfires, washing produce and packing for market, cooking food, sharing meals, etc. Will stressed that this is YOUR space, and you can dream big! It’s OK if you don’t have the resources to do all these projects right now, “but get started with bite-size projects today!”

 

Will then asked us to categorize the above features of our program elements by each physical systems present:

 

1.     food

2.     water

3.     shelter/built environment

4.     energy

5.     material resources (including waste/re-used)

 

I worked on the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s farm www.FoodShuttle.org but after a while of working on my project I joined Brenda Brodie (co-founder of SEEDS in Durham, www.seedsnc.org ) in following Will around from table to table. We watched him field questions, suggest innovative design elements, and tell many stories of success and challenges as a designer and teacher.

 

Here are a few grains of wisdom from the Piedmont’s premier permaculture designer/teacher:

 

  • Ponds need 75% shade to function
  • Slopes with 6% grade or higher will erode if gardened! Best to focus gardens elsewhere
  • In the Piedmont, in general, the wind comes from SW for 10 months/year, then from NE in hurricane season
  • For a 1000 square foot roof, every 1” of rain collects 600 gallons of water. Don’t use a 55 gallon collection tank! Will always uses a minimum of 300 gallons.
  • Will suggests installing orchards on a north-facing slope so it isn’t susceptible to early blooming and unpredictable late frosts

 

Here are a number of books Will recommended during the workshop:

 

  • Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway
  • Edible Forest Gardens 1 & 2 by Dave Jacke
  • Regenerative Design for Sustainable Development by John Lyle
  • The Universal Traveler: A Soft-Systems Guide to Creativity, Problem-Solving, and the Process of Reaching Goal, by Koberg & Bagnall
  • A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction, by Alexander, Ishikawa and Silverstein

 

This hands-on intensive was a great introduction to the principles and practices of design, and a great way to watch an experienced designer/teacher facilitate our design process. If you’re interested in getting deeper into permaculture or pursuing a Permaculture Design Certification, check out http://www.permacultureactivist.net/DesignCourse/PcSyllabus.htm . I look forward to learning more from Will Hooker here in Raleigh, and highly recommend reaching out to him about permaculture courses and consultation!

Pigs in the Pasture


Guest post by Michael Lang

Saturday, November 16, 2013

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Crops in the field at Let it Grow Farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the early days of our plans to start our own farm, my wife and I knew that pastured pigs was one of the enterprises we wanted to be a part of our farm and homestead.  This was a priority of ours for reasons related to our palettes as well as our consciences.  We love pork, especially pasture-raised pork.  The flavor and tenderness of the meat and fat from pastured pigs is such higher quality than that from confinement-raised pigs that it ought to be a different food entirely.  Beyond the eating quality, we have strong feelings about animal welfare and environmental stewardship.  We had read about and seen in person the less than ideal environmental outcomes of confinement production of pigs, and it only made sense to us that animals should not be raised in a building off the ground and completely disconnected from their natural environment and prevented from engaging in some of their most innate behaviors.  We have attended many workshops and consulted with several other pastured pork producers over the past several years in preparation for one day raising our own pigs, but out of all of them, today’s presentation provided the most comprehensive, balanced, and thoughtful consideration of outdoor production systems.

The Alternative Pork Production workshop was lead by Niki Whitley of NC A&T.  Ms. Whitley began by shifting my paradigm a bit with regard to outdoor versus confinement production of pigs.  Pigs were first moved inside in the 1970s for many of the same reasons we argue for pastured productions today.  Pigs make a mess.  They poop, they pee, and they do a whole lot of each.  Put a bunch of them on a small piece of land and you have less than ideal circumstances for the health of that land.  Phosphorus and potassium are abundant in manure, and once they are at high levels in the soil, it is very difficult to get them back down to reasonable levels.  Beyond environmental concerns, outdoor production poses animal welfare risks as well.  Outside is a dangerous place for pigs.  There are parasites, predators, fences to break out of…all of which are greater risks outdoors than indoors.  Also, some sows can have what are euphemistically called “poor maternal traits.”  One of those traits is that she may have an unfortunate tendency to crush her piglets when she lies down.  This trait can be better controlled for by using farrowing crates, which are often used in indoor production systems but have their own drawbacks with regard to animal welfare.  This all serves to illustrate that the debate between raising pigs on the ground versus in confinement systems is not as simple as a good vs. bad dichotomy.  There are good arguments to be made for each production approach and there are good, responsible ways to implement each production system.  It is also possible for animal welfare and environmental abuses to occur within each system.  Regardless of the production system, good husbandry and stewardship practices are required to make the system work for the pigs, the environment, and us.

All of that being said, outdoor production systems implemented with integrity provide an attractive enterprise for a small farm or homestead.  As I’ve mentioned, pork from pastured pigs is clearly superior in flavor, but it also is superior nutritionally.  Pigs can be used with small diversified farming systems to help “hog down” and till up crop fields at the end of their productive season.  Outdoor production also allows the pig to fully express it’s “pigness”, a term coined by Joel Salatin to describe the natural behaviors of pigs such as rooting and wallowing.  Perhaps one of the more central purposes for production of pigs on a small farm is the certainty of knowing the conditions in which they are raised, what they are fed, and how they are treated.  There seem to be far too many variables to that are unknowable or out of our control with pigs raised in confinement and processed through the large corporate supply chain, along with sufficient reason to be distrustful of the integrity of the corporations responsible for that supply chain.

Ms. Whitley shared with the group an overview of strategies to support the good husbandry and stewardship required for successful and sustainable production of pigs outdoors.  The two big ideas that were a part of all of the recommended practices were rotating pasture and stocking rate.  Several approaches to pasture rotation were discussed, including a “spoke and wheel”-type system with a central shelter area and radial sections of pasture and a “strip grazing”-type setup where all the infrastructure is moved to a new section of pasture periodically.  Ms. Whitley shared recommendations for stocking rates that were based on empirical data and focused on maintaining 70% ground cover, a standard set by the NRCS to reduce erosion and soil degradation.  Besides benefiting the soil health, lower stocking rates were correlated with animal welfare benefits including reduced parasite load and faster growth.  Practices for renovating pasture and managing nutrients were also shared.

This workshop served as a very informative and balanced overview of the risks, rewards, and responsibilities involved in raising pigs on pasture and emphasized the importance of good management practices for the benefit of all individuals and systems involved.

Michael Lang and his wife, Caroline, own Let It Grow Farm in Johnston County, NC.  They raise vegetables using organic methods across all four seasons and have a pasture-raised flock of laying hens with plans to add more livestock in the future.   Let It Grow Farm can be found online at http://letitgrowfarm.squarespace.com and can be contacted at letitgrowfarm@gmail.com

Why Food Councils and Food Networks?

ONE OF OUR 2015 INSPIRING MEMBER STORIES

By Stephanie Campbell, CFSA’s Outreach Coordinator

Grace and Cary Kanoy, of Davidson County, NC, believe putting down deep roots in a place and being an active part of a community are important. They are always being asked, “Why do we need a food network?” and “Why is food so important to you?”

Kanoys-EOY-2015 - GIVE“For a thriving community to exist,” Grace explains, “residents need to be healthy. Health comes from clean air, clean water, healthy food, physical activity, and a loving, supportive community. A healthy community that feeds itself is an independent and stable community. This is the kind of place we want to raise our family in.”

From a business standpoint, when residents, neighbors, and family members are healthy, it means healthy workers and better productivity. A healthy workforce attracts businesses and companies. Healthy students mean better attendance, better school performance.

CFSA is working with Grace and Cary to establish the Davidson County Local Food Network. CFSA staff provides resources, support and technical assistance through our partnership with the Center for Environmental Farming Systems’ Community Food Strategies initiative. Food councils are being formed at county, regional and state levels to create intentional networks around food system issues and to provide members with the skills and knowledge to identify local solutions to food systems challenges.

A healthy community that feeds itself is an independent and stable community. This is the kind of place we want to raise our family in.

Grace and Cary are filmmakers and photographers by day and concentrate their professional work as well as their community service on issues of social justice. “We have particularly valued CFSA’s efforts to affect and influence farm and food policy both in our state and on a federal level,” says Grace. “Through our relationship with CFSA and learning about other members’ efforts, we realize how much federal and state policy affects our local economy, community and even our family’s health.”

In their volunteer work helping establish the Davidson County Local Food Network, the Kanoys have learned much to share with other groups forming across the Carolinas: the greater impact that can be made working together as a community, taking time to weave a diverse network of community leaders committed to a shared purpose, building a sense of community responsibility and accountability, and sharing actual stories, both successes and failures. The Kanoys credit the leadership, experience and involvement of CFSA staff in helping establish credibility and facilitating positive change in their county.

“CFSA is our go-to resource for agriculture policy and sustainable ag resources for us in our own homestead and for our community network,” says Grace. “CFSA has had an enormous influence on our lives, introducing us to a wealth of experts, leaders and role models – from participating in farm tours, the Sustainable Ag Conference, learning about food councils and food policy, and becoming part of a larger community who are trying to live honest lives and make the world a better place.”

Read more about CFSA food council support and development at: www.carolinafarmstewards.org/food-councils/

Family Farm in South Carolina Increases Market Sales with Organic Certification

ONE OF OUR 2015 INSPIRING MEMBER STORIES

By Stephanie Campbell, CFSA’s Outreach Coordinator

When Lisa Rees and her husband, Taylor, moved back to their family land in 2013, their neighbors warned them, “You can’t grow organically down here.” The admonitions didn’t stop Lisa and Taylor of Five Forks Sustainable Farm LLC in Pageland, SC. In 2014, Lisa received a Dow Scholarship to the CFSA Sustainable Agriculture Conference. Then, in just two years, with the expert technical assistance of CFSA Farm Services staff, Five Forks Farm has completed a Conservation Activity Plan (CAP) and an Organic Certification Transition Plan.

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“We got our organic certification in August, and our sales at the Farmers’ Market increased by six-fold this week!” shared Lisa. “Thanks for all of your help and advice . . . I’m sure we would not have come this far without the help of CFSA!” Lisa and Taylor have big plans for their farm in the next ten years. Although they are currently farming only about two acres of vegetables and fruits, their 382 acres was part of an original land grant from King George and they hope to pass on a family legacy of healthy, natural, beautiful land producing an alternative to conventional agriculture. Lisa’s grandfather raised beef cattle on the land from the 1930s to the 1990s. “When he passed away the farm was just left to die,” said Lisa.

“Since there are not many organic farmers in our area the network of CFSA farmers has been a lifeline for us. We don’t feel so alone and we have a wealth of resources and farming friends to draw on and learn from.”

Lisa and Taylor spent 30 years living and working in Boone, NC, where they supported the progressive farming community there. Lisa is a CPA and Taylor worked as a truck driver. A visit to the homestead in Pageland for a holiday a few years ago renewed their appreciation for the abundance of the land and their commitment to family, healthy food, and stewardship of their family legacy.

When considering a move back to the family farm, they were excited to learn that CFSA serves both North and South Carolina. They took advantage of workshops, resources, and building connections to other sustainable farming members. To prepare for the move and beginning farming, they also interned on a local farm, learned how to process chickens and visited Polyface Farm in Virginia. CFSA staff helped the Rees’ complete a Conservation Action Plan for the farm and become Certified Organic.

Lisa credits their success at the Union County Farmers’ Market in Monroe to CFSA advice and encouragement. As they continue to learn and grow, their plans over the next few years include expanding the market garden, raising heritage pastured hogs and poultry, and returning cattle to the land in rotational grazing. “Since there are not many organic farmers in our area,” says Lisa, “the network of CFSA farmers has been a lifeline for us. We don’t feel so alone and we have a wealth of resources and farming friends to draw on and learn from.”

Read more about CFSA Farmer Services at:  www.carolinafarmstewards.org/farm-services/ Your gift to CFSA is one of the best ways you can support local farmers and champion food that is good for consumers, good for farmers and farmworkers, and good for the land.

Please give today.

You can donate online at /give

or mail a check to CFSA, PO Box 448, Pittsboro, NC 27312