Member Spotlight: Lauren Small

This Columbia, SC Mother, Gardener and Small Business Owner is Passionate about Eating Healthy, Local Foods

Lauren-and-baby

 

CFSA’s Amy Armbruster:  Why are organic foods important to you?

Lauren Small: I used to have no knowledge of the importance of good nutrition and organic food. I ate terribly. Cheese fries between jobs, a candy bar for a quick snack, fast food late at night. I never thought it was affecting me; I was thin and thought that “healthy eating” was only for people trying to lose weight. Fast forward a few years and I was in a health crisis. To be honest, I had health issues for years, but it took me quite some time to put two and two together and realize that the food I was eating was contributing to my quick decline in health. I started studying up on nutrition and “clean eating”. I transitioned to a much more holistic lifestyle, cutting out toxins from all areas of my life. I started by buying organic produce if it was on the dirty dozen list. Now I prefer to buy everything local, organic, and in season when possible. When I began eating a paleo diet I learned the importance of organic meat. I had been buying organic produce and putting meat on the back burner, but I learned that grass-fed, organic meat is very important, especially for people trying to cut down on inflammation.

 

CFSA: Why are you a member of CFSA?

I think it is vital to support our local organic farmers. Without them,  fresh, organic food would not be as easily accessible. My husband’s family has been farming in South Carolina for years and wouldn’t have been successful without the support of the community. One day I hope to have a small homestead of my own and I like knowing there is an amazing support system in place at CFSA.

 


Join Lauren in becoming a CFSA member. Together we’re working toward a vibrant, sustainable food system in the Carolinas! Join CFSA today!

 

CFSA: Tell me about your ‘aha moment’ when you realized that eating organic foods was an important choice for you and your family.

My health had hit an all-time low. My body was chronically inflamed and I was struggling to get through each day. We were also wanting to start a family and I realized that something had to change. I had a lot of knowledge regarding food and nutrition but I wasn’t applying it to my everyday life. I realized that with every bite I was either feeding disease or fighting it. It was like a switch went off in my head. I started eating a very nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory diet full of organic veggies, organic meats, grass-fed beef liver, bone broth, and healthy fats. The change was like night and day. My health took a 180; I felt so alive and like I was thriving.

 

CFSA: Tell us a little about how being pregnant and breastfeeding your baby changed your thinking about what is safe and healthy to put in our bodies.

Before I got pregnant with my son I started priming my body to give him the best start to life that I could. I avoided inflammatory foods and ate nutrient dense, organic meats and veggies. I thought it was amazing and so crazy to look at my pregnancy app and see how quickly my baby was growing each week. My body was providing this little pea with everything he needed to grow! That was a big motivator to be careful of what foods I ate. Breastfeeding has been an amazing journey and I’m so grateful that I’m able to nourish my baby in this way. I find it incredible how little we actually know about breastmilk though. I can tell a difference in my son’s overall mood and sleep habits when I eat certain foods. Especially food containing dyes, excessive sugar, preservatives or other yuck ingredients. It has definitely helped me stick to my own goals of eating healthy by seeing the negative effects he experiences when I slip up.

 

CFSA: Your son is just starting to eat solid foods. What does he like so far?

We are giving him super nutrient dense, gut healthy foods, cooked how we would eat them instead of mushed up like purees. So far he has had chicken bone broth, avocado, sweet potato and egg yolk. He really loves the sweet potato and egg yolk! He loves drinking from a cup so broth has been a big hit because of that. Avocado he doesn’t seem to be a huge fan of, I think it’s the texture. I plan on only feeding him organic, non-processed, nutrient dense foods for quite a while.

 

CFSA: The food and farming community in Columbia is really taking off and now there is a new fresh-from-the-farm delivery service – perfect for moms! Tell us about it.

I just found out about this local farm that delivers and I am so excited about it! Leesville Aquaponics Homestead will deliver for free on any orders over $20. This is a great option for families with young one especially, or the elderly! I am expecting my first order this week. I ordered a little bit of all the veggies they have available, some eggs and a rabbit. I’ve never cooked or even eaten rabbit before so I’m excited to try something new. A friend of mine recommended this farm when I was asking where to buy eggs from pastured chickens fed soy free feed. I love the farmer’s market but I’m not able to make it out there that often with a little one. My plan is to order from this farm each week and hit up the farmer’s market about once a month to stock up on my other meats.

 

Lauren's-garden

CFSA: You are an avid organic gardener. When did you first start gardening and what got you interested in organic gardening?

I love gardening! I’m not really that great at it, but that’s not what matters to me. I like getting out in the sun and dirt each day and putting my time and energy into something that gives back. My first garden was in a pallet with dollar store soil and seeds. Needless to say, not much grew. But with some guidance from my best friend, I learned enough about organic gardening to get a nice little garden started. My husband built me a 4×10 raised bed and my father in law built me a big ole barrel composter. It’s been a learning experience and each year I learn a little more. It’s been mainly a hobby but I am hoping to produce enough veggies this year to offset our grocery bill a bit. I’ve heard the quote, “Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes,” and it’s so true! I’m so excited to teach my son about gardening and have him out there helping me pick veggies!

 

CFSA: As a mom myself, I know what a challenge it can be to put food on the table every night. What’s your go-to organic dinner ?

I love soups for those days when I’ve waited until the last minute to throw something together. We always have some homemade bone broth in the freezer so I’ll throw that, some meat and fresh veggies all together and let it do its thing. Sometimes I’ll do chicken broth, chicken, carrots, celery, and onion. Or I’ll go with a heartier soup with beef broth, ground beef or stew meat, potatoes, and carrots. But you can really throw in whatever you have fresh at the moment. Also kale or spinach, those bulk up the soup and add a little bit of green in. During the summer I’ll just go pick some lettuce out of the garden for a super fresh salad also.

 

CFSA: Would you share a recipe?

My chicken soup is a go to in our house for sick days, freezer meals, or anytime we need an easy meal. It’s easily prepped the night before and just throw it in a pot or crockpot the next day.

 

1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 cups carrots, chopped

1 medium yellow onion, diced

3 stalks celery, chopped

4-5 cloves garlic, minced (or more, I don’t think you can overdo the garlic)

3 Tbsp EVOO

½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

6 cups chicken broth (homemade is best)

1 cup water

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional)

A bunch of spinach or kale

 

Put all ingredients in a 6 quart crockpot and cook on low 6-7 hours. Remove chicken and cut into bite size pieces or shred. Put the chicken back in the pot and add the spinach or kale. Cook for another 5-10 minutes or until the greens have wilted.

 

CFSA: Dreams for the future?

I grew up wishing I could live on a farm. I still do. My dream would be to move to the country and have a little self-sustaining homestead. I’d have a huge garden, free range chickens, a pig (for fun not to eat), a goat for the milk, some rabbits, and a few grass fed cows. I would love to have a large family. I’d have all my children outside each day, learning about life through nature. Who knows, maybe that will happen one day. But if it doesn’t I will still teach my son how to garden, care for whatever animals we may acquire and hope that he grows up with a passion for organic, holistic living like his mama. I would be thrilled if he grew up to be a farmer. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit. My husband grew up in the country, feeding cows and taking care of turkeys. He has a work ethic like a farmer. Rain or shine, he’s always the first one to roll up his sleeves and get the job done and get it done right. I would be proud for my son to turn out the same.

 

CFSA: Anything else you’d like to share with the good food and farming community in the Carolinas?

It is my passion to spread awareness of the chemicals that we put in our bodies and my hope that we can arm the next generation with the knowledge to make healthy decisions for themselves and our planet. With this knowledge we can have happier and healthier children. I’ve put my passion to work in planning this year’s Children’s March for Humanity in Columbia, SC. Our goal is to ignite desire in the hearts of the masses to yearn for more information on topics such as glyphosate, GMOs, and various chemicals. Through inquiry grounded in love, respect, and empathy, our goal is to tear down the defensive walls which: divide, hinder sparked curiosity, and discourage the masses from seeking the truth. The main march will take place in Washington, D.C. and we will be rallying at the South Carolina State House on June 17, 2017 10am-2pm.

Please visit https://childrensmarchforhumanity.com/columbia%2C-sc for more information and to get involved.

 

Lauren Small is a work-at-home mama to a precious little chunk of a baby. Her passions include babywearing, breastfeeding, studying holistic health, gardening, long baths, and fair trade chocolate. Check out her all natural and organic oil cleansers at www.mindyourownskincare.com.

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.

Lisa-and-Taylor-Rees-EOY-2015.jpg

“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

 

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/

MEMBER PROFILE: Lucky Acres Farm

by Diana Vossbrinck

Cleopatra.  Cinderella.  Sokrates.  They make interesting family portraits, covering the walls of the back parlor in Joe and Gloria Williams’ home.  Joe points to each picture in turn, naming them with a twinkle in his eye, much like any proud papa.  Displayed are the alpacas of Lucky Acres Farm, where these beautiful, gentle creatures are indeed a part of the family. Learn More

Network Weaving in Davidson County

by Jared Cates, Community Mobilizer

Kanoys

Grace and Cary Kanoy have been making themselves known in their community in Thomasville, NC. They’ve joined many local boards, they’re leading an effort to develop a food council, and Grace recently gave an address at the annual State of the City and State of the County event. This young couple is stirring the pot with some big ideas; they believe the timing is right to make Thomasville a city of the future.

For the past couple of years, the Kanoys have been dreaming big and exploring Thomasville and Davidson County. They began by pondering the question: what are two things that we need as a family to stay in this area? Their answer: food and fun. By food, they mean locally grown, fresh food. And by fun, they mean outdoor recreation.

Grace and Cary both believe that Davidson County could be a regional destination for food and fun, and they imagine the community as the future Day Trip Capital of North Carolina. They imagine an underground creek running through downtown Thomasville daylighted, or opened up so residents can enjoy it.  Its old mill buildings could be transformed into a park site, dotted with enough dogwood trees to draw tourists to an annual spring blossom festival rivaling the cherry blossom celebrations of Japan. They imagine a network of bike trails that could host cyclo-cross competitions and dual-slalom races. They see an economy based on the tradition of small farms: the butcher, the baker, the beekeeper, the cook, the canner, the hunter, and the outdoor explorer. They imagine a Davidson County that draws in the new American pioneer – the risk takers, the economy builders. They imagine a community where physical activity is simply a part of daily life and the economy.

But this was not always the case; in years past they admit to being vocal critics of Thomasville, albeit from the confines of their kitchen. The couple relocated to Thomasville in the early 2000s, moving to the farm that has been in Cary’s family since the 1870s. Although there were not many amenities in Thomasville, they loved the idea of moving back to the family farm and being in the country, as opposed to the big city life of Vancouver.

In 2010, the couple attended CFSA’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Winston-Salem, a big turning point for their family. They came primarily because Cary’s dad was growing older; they were concerned about the future of the farm.

“That conference kickstarted the way we look at food and how you can make a difference in your community,” said Grace. “Our mindset started to change in the way that we look at the food system. We’ve always been foodies, but integrating a sustainable mentally into how we actually live has changed our lives in a profound way. That’s when it all started. That conference inspired us to learn more about community food systems and to learn about different farming techniques like permaculture.“

Due to the many opportunities they believe exist for Davidson County, Grace and Cary have now made it their personal mission to get involved in all aspects of their community.

“We complained a lot about our county, but we realized that we have to do something besides complain and actually give it a real effort,” said Grace.  “By getting out there and connecting with our community we learned that there are local government structures and non-profit structures that crave citizen participation. If you just ask, then it is pretty likely that you can get on a board and start making a real difference in your community.”

For the past two years the couple has been fully engaged in a handful of groups. Cary is member of the Thomasville Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Grace joined the Board of Family Services of Davidson County as well as PACE (People Achieving Community Enhancement), which focuses on downtown enhancement in Thomasville. Cary lobbied to be on the advisory board for the Yadkin Valley Career Academy, a new local STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) school, and is now co-chair of its Executive Board. All it took was asking to join and actually showing up for meetings.

In 2012, the couple started to hear about the different community food councils that were popping up around the state and the rest of the country. They became intrigued and wondered what a food council could do for Davidson County.  In early 2014, the Kanoys heard about a webinar hosted by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems and UNC School of Government on food council development. They worked with the Davidson County Health Department to host a viewing site for the community.  Around 13 people showed up to view the webinar, and the group expressed a strong interest in pursuing the establishment of a community food council.

Since that time, Cary and Grace have been dropping in on various farms and local farmers’ markets to collect names to add to their growing email list of people who want to join the food council discussion. The more people they speak with, the more they learn about various parts of the food system. The more connections they make, the more they find out about individuals and organizations that are already working towards a healthy, safe and vibrant community food system.

“The number one issue in our community is communication. There are wonderful organizations but all in their own insular areas. There is no intra-organizational discussion,” said Grace.

This is one of the reasons that the couple has launched a blog telling the story of efforts to create change in the community.  They are providing a virtual space for all of those in the community who are starting innovative and passionate ventures. “I think that people appreciate that we’re engaged and that we’re good at communicating,” Grace continues, “We are good at finding people and finding out who needs to know what.”

Grace and Cary imagine what their community might look like with new devotion from county government towards making Davidson County a destination for recreational travel and a hub for locally grown foods.  They believe that an official food council could help build collaboration and break down silos within the community. The group that met for the food council webinar has reconvened twice since and has plans to meet again in January. Meetings are held in different parts of the county so that all community members have an opportunity to engage in the discussion.

Davidson County

Through all of their networking and conversations the couple has already learned some encouraging facts about Davidson County.

From Grace and Cary:

1. We have discovered that Thomasville City Schools has a grant to supply fresh fruits and vegetables to the students and that the Nutrition Director has been able to get a grant to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students in the school district.  We don’t understand the regulations and that is one of the obstacles to actually connecting local producers with the schools.

2. The Health Department has assisted several convenience stores and gas stations to sell fresh produce by providing them with an extra cooler to hold product.

3. There have been attempts in the past to supply local produce to restaurants, but it was a one-man deal. We think we can resurrect this effort.

4. We have re-recruited some of the past pioneers to come back and join the challenge, partially because the timing is right and people are ready to assist.

June Holley, author of The Network Weaver Handbook, describes Network Weavers as people who “identify a network of people with common interest and help them to focus on increased effectiveness of that interest.” She goes on to explain that networks are everywhere, but someone has to help people become aware that they are actually part of a web of relationships for them to make a real difference.  Grace and Cary Kanoy embody this definition of Network Weavers; they are working to strengthen their community food system by networking and connecting people across their county towards a common goal. And all they had to do was ask and engage with their community!

Well – ask and engage, go to many meetings, keep up with their blog, their garden, and their kids. They acknowledge that it has taken a lot of work, but they are excited about the prospects for the future of Davidson County.  Plus they have met a lot of new people in the community. If you ever have the pleasure to visit the Kanoy homestead, you will likely leave with an armful of homemade jam, some veggies, a link of venison sausage, and maybe a rabbit or two if you’re lucky; it’s no wonder they’re making friends across the county!

For more information on these efforts, on June Holley and Network Weaving, or on food councils in general, please email CFSA’s Community Mobilizer, Jared Cates, at jared@.

Keep up with the latest from the Davidson County Local Food Network on their blog or facebook.

For the Love of Family, Farm, Cheese and Community

By Marianna Spence, CFSA’s Membership Coordinator 

Fabian and Sandra

Their children, Fermin and Fiamma, were four and five years old when the Lujan family moved to the United States 16 years ago to an apartment in Burlington, NC.

In Argentina Fabian and Sandra were beekeepers, with more than 80 hives at one point. Even so, they considered beekeeping a side job and wanted to take the next step as farmers.

“We were about to move to a very isolated farm with the idea of being self-sufficient,” said Sandra. “We got the place ready to move and a gigantic flood ruined the space. We lost 20 hives and couldn’t access the farm for three months because of washed out roads. It wasn’t a good way to start.”

After losing that momentum, Fabian started working as a photographer but the economy in Argentina lost stability. The family decided to move to the United States in 2000 and didn’t farm for four years.

“I had two or three tomato plants in some pots, and that was all my farming,” laughed Sandra.

In 2004, the family moved to a house and added bees, chickens, and a garden with the idea of starting an herb farm. Fabian and Sandra mastered herbal jellies – rosemary and orange, thyme and merlot – to sell at market with honey but noticed that the jellies and honey didn’t equal weekly return customers.

“People were excited when we first came to market, but we weren’t selling products they needed every week,” said Sandra. “That’s when Fabian started making artisan breads – also because we really missed fresh baked bread from Argentina!”

In the early 2000’s artisan bakeries weren’t common; Sandra doesn’t remember any in Burlington. The only bread the Lujans liked was a take-and-bake loaf from Harris Teeter.

“It’s funny. Now we always sell out at the farmers’ market so we STILL don’t have our own bread,” said Sandra. “One day we went from the farmers’ market to Harris Teeter to buy bread to eat with dinner!”

Piemonte Farm Life

The Lujans had developed a customer base and began considering their next step. Sandra had recently read a story about a Georgia meat farmer who raised everything from cows to rabbits. This farm experienced more success by honing in on cows and producing cheese. Sandra mentioned the idea to Fabian one summer as they were playing with their family at the beach.

“It was something we could do no matter the weather, and it would pair well with our current products, creating a cohesive storefront of goods” said Fabian. He was ready to run with the idea.

One small challenge – Fabian had never made cheese, they didn’t have a license, they didn’t have cows or a creamery or a cheese aging room. Nothing to make cheese.

Piemonte Farm Cheese Cave

They met with their friends, the Gerringers of Calico Farmstead Creamery, and worked out a plan to buy their cow milk and rent use of their creamery on Sundays. Jackie Gerringer also gave them books and moral support. Fabian set out to create raw cow’s milk cheese, which requires an aging process of two months.

“In order to have a real idea of what was going on with the cheese, we had to wait two months,” said Fabian. “After only a month waiting and making new cheeses along the way, we couldn’t wait anymore. We sliced into a wheel and it smelled like cheese! We tried it and we were like ‘Look at that! It’s real cheese!’”

After they got a license, Fabian started making eight wheels of cheese at a time using 50 gallons of milk. Their fridge was packed within three weeks. First batches were ready to sell in November 2013 and sold out by December (without selling at a large farmers’ market because most were finalizing the season).

They have continued making small batches of 8-10 wheels per week of three varieties. They’ve also continued selling out.

The Lujan’s shared a traditional recipe for Gnocchi with their Don Gabino cheese – yum!

“We have Don Agustin, a manchego –inspired cheese named after my grandfather who was from Spain,” said Fabian. “We have Don Gabino, a montasio-inspired cheese named after Sandra’s grandfather from Italy. We have Old Glencoe, a simple homestead cheese, and finally, Italiano, a cheese with some bite!”

Piemonte Farm Cheese

A year after their first cheese had aged to perfection, they moved to Piemonte Farm and saw endless possibilities for the 1880’s Greensboro farmstead, which hadn’t been loved in a quite a while. Again, Fabian and Sandra tried their hand at new things.

“We wanted to eventually have sheep’s milk so we bought a ram, wether, and 5 ewes – all were pregnant and we didn’t know,” said Sandra. “When we went to see them before buying, Fabian said the ram was so sweet – this fat, fluffy, friendly sheep that looked like something you put your feet on by the couch!”

Turns out, that was the wether (castrated male sheep), not the ram. Then came two goats, a calf, and a pig to the farm. Finally, a plumber who helped with leaks in the basement also noticed the menagerie of animals and the care they received. He asked Fabian if they want to rescue a horse…the answer was no, then yes. Then they got some more books.

Piemonte Farm

The Lujans give a lot of credit to the community for their success, though clearly the family’s faith in each other has had more than a little to do with it.

From using their church kitchen to bake their bread and a friend’s creamery to make cheese, to receiving Slow Money loans for their first cheese cave and being awarded the beginning farmer’s scholarship to CFSA’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference, the Lujans say it’s easy to see how community has helped Piemonte Farm grow.

Last but not least, the Lujans recognize the weekly support from customers at the farmers’ market. In appreciation for this, they started a monthly pizza club which anyone can join – for free. Friends, customers, neighbors gather for wood fire pizza, made by Fabian using ingredients grown at the farm. At the last pizza night of 2015, 60 folks celebrated community, fresh food, and this wonderful family.

Piemonte Farm Pizza ClubNow young adults at 20 and 21, the Lujan’s children help out with everything – daily farm chores, customer service at the farmers’ market, photography and marketing. Fiamma’s fiancé loves the farm, too, and just got a goat named Onion from the Lujans as a Christmas gift.

While Fabian and Sandra aren’t sure yet if their children will be second generation farmers, they are sure their kids and their community love Piemonte Farm as much as they do.

Lujan Family

Full disclosure: The Lujans sent me home with a bag of Piemonte Farm goodies including a wedge of their Don Gabino cheese. It barely made it back to Pittsboro.