Monthly Archives: April 2011

CFSA Piedmont Farm Tour


Last Sunday, the CEFS apprentices joined up with apprentices from another farmer training program in Wake County, a few local high-school students from SWARM (Students Working for an Agricultural Revolutionary Movement), and their HBO entourage (who are filming a documentary about obesity in America), and caravaned out Raleigh way for the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s annual farm tour.
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Our first stop was at Lee Calhoun’s place, which is in a really interesting neighborhood, called Saralyn. The community began in the 60’s in response to so many cookie-cutter McMansion neighborhoods popping up in the area. People who live in Saralyn are committed to environmental stewardship and make decisions around their households and communal space with regards to how it will affect the environment and communal well-being.
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Mr. Calhoun with one of his apple trees.

Mr. Calhoun has been instrumental in preserving hundreds of Southern apple varieties from fading further into the past and being completely forgotten. Throughout his time cultivating apple trees, he has rediscovered and documented over 450 apple varieties that had dropped out of our collective use and knowledge base, many of which were thought to be extinct. He gave us a tour of his orchards, gardens, and homestead, and even gave us a little lesson on grafting baby apple trees. We also had a chance to flip through one of this books, entitled Old Southern Apples. I highly recommend it – especially the beautiful illustrations, some dating back to the 1800s!
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Alpine goats at Celebrity Dairy

Next we moved on to Celebrity Dairy, a goat farm and cheese-making facility. The farmland was beautiful, the chèvre was delicious, and of course the goats were adorable. They keep alpine goats, which are smaller than the ones we had here at the Small Farm. They even had a baby born the day before!

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Suki teaching in her herb garden.

Herb Haven was next on the list. It’s a fairly comprehensive herb garden and apothecary run by herbalist Suki Roth. She was so full of knowledge and answered a lot of our questions about plant nutritional and health benefits. Besides running her garden and apothecary, she teaches a handful of apprentices about herbalism as well.
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Mr. Hitt with a few of the SWARMers.

Peregrine Farm was our last stop of the day. We had a great conversation with Alex Hitt, who has been farming the area for 20+ years. He laid out the farm’s overarching goals of complete health and sustainability, with regards to the environment, social issues, and one’s own personal mental health. He was very hopeful and encouraging to young people, saying that our generation will be the final push for greater sustainability in agriculture.  The amount of food he is able to grow on the small area of land was really astounding, and his diversity of markets was also very interesting to see.
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That wrapped up our tour experience, besides on last stop of the Co-op grocery store in Pittsboro. There we had a little debrief session and chat about our thoughts on the day’s experiences.
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The tour was really encouraging and showed us a wide variety of what innovating and exciting agricultural practices are going on in the Raleigh area. It was great to see so many participants and young people out visiting the farms.
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And now, a photo gallery for your viewing pleasure. (Thanks to Tes and Alice for providing most of these).

Mr. Calhoun teaching us how to graft.

One of Mr. Calhoun's dwarf apple orchards.

At Celebrity Dairy


Day-old baby goat at Celebrity Dairy
Shorlette bonding with a goat.

Herb Haven

Movable High Tunnel at Peregrine Farm.

Field of Lettuce at Peregrine Farm.

Full cold frames at Peregrine Farm.


Who are these apprentices, anyway?

Howdy there, farmers and foodies!  I hope you all are doing well.  As should be the case with most in agriculture, the weather here in Goldsboro has been the talk of the town as of late. It has been surprisingly temperamental — after a weekend of historically tornadic activity in eastern NC, the first half of this week was a sunny and WARM way to enter the full swing of spring.  We apprentices have busied ourselves with planting peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants in the summer field while taking our first cuts at the bounty of the spring crop.  The canolas are in full bloom, our freezers are filled to the brim with strawberries, and our honeybees are humming with activity.

(Oh, and did I mention we now have a small herd of dairy cows?)

All in all, spring is well on its way, and we at the Small Farm Unit of CEFS are loving it.

Since arriving in Goldsboro, plenty of folks in town have stopped to ask us (a) why we would move here of all places, (b) what exactly we’re doing here, and (c) who are we, anyway?  As such, it seems most appropriate to take a step back and introduce ourselves – the apprentices – in full form.

CONNOR

  • His spirit animal is the black bear, and his spirit vegetable is the peanut.
  • The most interesting task we’ve had on the farm thus far (for Connor) has been working with the honeybees.
  • His favorite tractor implement is the spader.
  • Connor is particularly interested in the expansion of community gardens and communal space in Goldsboro.
  • His favorite Goldsboro landmark is the graphic marquee for the back pain center on Ash Street.

Connor hails from Williamsburg, VA. He graduated from William & Mary with a degree in environmental policy and African studies and has been working on farms around the country since then.

ALICE

  • Her spirit animal is unknown as of yet, and her spirit vegetable is okra.
  • The most interesting task we’ve had on the farm thus far (for Alice) has been learning to operate the tractors.
  • Her favorite tractor implement is the rototiller.
  • Alice is particularly interested in the decentralized nature of the food justice movement in Goldsboro.
  • Her favorite Goldsboro landmark is the little bank.

Alice is originally from Huntsville, AL.  She graduated from Swarthmore with a degree in comparative literature and has been working for an Alabama-based sustainable agriculture organization.

KAVITA

  • Her spirit animal is the turtle, and her spirit vegetable is the Jerusalem artichoke.
  • In a parallel universe, Kavita would grow up to be a vulcanologist.
  • Her favorite tractor implement is the flail mower.
  • She is particularly interested in the opportunities agriculture provides for social entrepreneurship.
  • Her favorite Goldsboro landmark is an old house built on top of four silos near Cherry Hospital.

Kavita is originally from Irmo, SC.  She graduated from UNC with a degree in geography and biology and is currently taking time off from graduate school.

CHRISTY

  • Her spirit animal is the white tailed deer, and her spirit fruit is mango.
  • The most interesting task she has done thus far on the farm has been pruning small fruits.
  • Her favorite tractor implement is the rototiller – it “gets her every time.”
  • She is particularly interested in seeing young people involved in sustainable agriculture in Goldsboro.
  • Her favorite Goldsboro landmark is the water tower.

Christy is from Buckingham County, VA.  She graduated from William & Mary with a degree in anthropology and environmental policy and has been working on farms around the country.

We are all SO excited to be here in Goldsboro and learning in the thousands of different ways we do on a day-to-day basis. Thanks for reading, y’all!  Stay tuned for our latest adventures on the Piedmont Farm Tour.

CEFS Apprenticeship 2011 – A New Season

Each year around this time, CEFS welcomes four apprentices to the Goldsboro community to experience a full growing season at the Small Farm Unit.–you’ll get to know the apprentices a little more in the next post. Apprenticeships are rare opportunities these days.  In having a recent conversation with these four “young” folks, I have a better understanding of what it takes for a person to uproot his/herself from familiar surroundings to be launched into an unfamiliar place and be absorbed by new ideas, understandings and discoveries. Below are a few quotes that places the humility it takes to pause ones life in search of learning and knowing in perspective…

“I want to start being a resource for people who want more information about food sustainability, for folks who want to be able to start a community garden, finding the need and filling that need”

“I know that Goldsboro is a temporary stop in my life and community connections would probably end when I leave, but I look forward to developing new connections and building skills on how to do that when move to my “home” town. I want to find a place and get to know the community and call that ‘my’ community.”

“I’m recognizing how different things are in different locations/regions; important that direction move in is rooted in the context of the rural south. I wouldn’t want to be learning in a place that didn’t fit the context I want to apply it to.”

“On the farming side of things – want to make money from what is learned here, would like to try to live in the city possibly as an urban farm manager, continue being in a learning mode for a couple more years after this.  I think that’s the most adequate learning mode for me right now.”

“I like spending time with real people, doing what they do and recognizing the interconnectedness of food into these things. In rural areas food is really important and can be a source of empowerment, particularly in the rural south; stuff is already happening outside of me and I see the opportunity to jump in; I like the idea of a resource as being a more passive role; I want to understand how empowerment happens.”

“A challenge [of the apprenticeship} could be creating a sense of ownership that you feel good about and in a responsible way not feeling like you’ve just dropped it when you leave and like its not just for you; want to feel like this is a reciprocal relationship.”

“[I’m] excited about Goldsboro.  It’s different in a lot of good ways.  It’s been gratifying to show up and feel welcomed instantly…refreshing to be in a small community that is good about being what it is.  A lot like a place I can imagine living in.  People I come in contact with, the place that they live and what they share has made the most out of my life and my existence.”