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.


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