Monday, April 23, 2007

12th Annual Piedmont Farm Tour

This past Saturday and Sunday thousands of people traveled from Triangle urban areas to the country. While driving around the Piedmont each of them had an opportunity to visit one of 30 farms slightly north of Chapel Hill. The event was sponsored by The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, a farm advocacy organization working to create sustainable food systems in North and South Carolina.

Yesterday, my family and I visited five farms on a beautiful N.C. afternoon. We drove from Creedmoor to Yanceyville in Caswell County for or first visit. There we were able to renew old friendship with Mac and Peggy Baldwin. Mac and Peggy are the founders of Baldwin Family Farms and Baldwin Charolais Beef. They have been on this land for many years and Mac has been raising beef cattle since the age of nine. Their 800 acre farm is given totally to the production of grass feed beef. From calf to table, Baldwin Beef is involved in the production, sales and marketing of their own product. USDA inspected, Baldwin Beef can be shipped all over the USA. Order a family five pack and give it a try. Mac and Peggy are people of great faith and love for their family and farm. Mac also writes a blog, check it out and encourage him to write more often.

Our next two stops were smaller operations. Maple Spring Gardens and Wild Hare Farm are neighbors. Literally side by side, these two organic growers are producing vegetables, herbs, strawberries and cut flowers from Cedar Grove, N.C. They produce some products in greenhouses, but yesterday, their fields were full of young veggie plants, flowers and berries. They produce to sell at the Carrboro Farmers Market, local restaurants and florists. From the conversations I heard and things I saw, they are constantly innovating and looking for ways to produce better crops for the local market. When you buy your fruits and veggies this spring and summer, buy local, buy fresh, buy from a farmer!!

We drove a few miles south to the Pope farm. The Captain J. S. Pope Farm has been in the family for over 140 years. The farm house built 140 years ago still stands, along with several out buildings and the original wash/bath house. They have 150-175 Dorper sheep and lamb that graze on natural grass. Predators have become a problem the last few years in this part of N.C., for this reason the Popes have a HUGE Akbash/Maremma dog and four llamas to protect the herd. Mac Baldwin from Balwdwin Beef tells that coyotes and vultures are deadly to new born calves and lambs. Although my family has never had a taste for lamb, we will give it a try to support local sustainable farming.

Our last farm tour stop took us to the triving community of Efland, where we met the McAdams family. The McAdams clan has been farming on their land for five generations. They have a diversified operation, growing vegetables, cut flowers, strawberries and beef cattle on family land. They also are a holding site for a large apiary in Mebane. Yesterday, they had more than 75 hives of busy bees pollinating and gathering nectar. The McAdams family operates a pick-your-own berries and veggie stand on the farm, as well as selling grain fed Angus beef products. You can also find their produce at the Carrboro Farmers Market and the Market at Southern Village. They have no website, but you can visit at 1100 Efland-Cedar Grove Rd or give them a call 919-732-7701.

We were very close to Hillsborough. When there, we normally drive out to Maple View Farm Dairy. We have known and loved the Nutter family for many years. Our daughters still remember going out to the dairy and getting our milk out of the cooler on the front porch.
The Nutter Family and Maple View Farm are proof positive that sutainable food systems can be created to benefit the farmer and community. We stopped by the original country store, but there must have been 100 folks in line for ice cream, instead we drove toward home and stopped by the Maple View shop off I-85 at NC86 for a few scoops.

We had a great afternoon as a family. We learned, we laughed and we enjoyed God's handywork on the sustainable farms of the N.C. Piedmont. N.C. is a bountiful place, and my hope is, we will see more sustainable farming food systems come on line in the future.
As you purchase food, buy local, buy fresh, buy natural, support a local farmer!!


  1. JC, sounds like you guys had a wonderful afternoon. Isn't it amazing what you find when you start looking around? Looking forward to our next visit.

  2. PS-I love Mac's tip on his blog: either become a vegetarian or eat a vegetarian. Cool.