Mitchell County (<1 acre)
Shiitake mushrooms, honey, summer squash
Rick Harty had always wanted to farm, and in 2005, after retiring from the Philadelphia fire department, he got his wish. He and his wife, Alice, packed their bags and permanently relocated to Mitchell County. There, with help from the Cooperative Extension, they founded Harty Farms. Rick has been growing with TRACTOR since we started, and he has been a member of the board since. He likes being involved with TRACTOR in order to find out what he needs to do to push products faster and with more efficiency. Rick originally found his niche in the county specializing in rabbits, honey, and organic shiitake mushrooms. While he is no longer in the rabbit or shiitake business, he continues to sell his honey as well as beeswax at several stores, restaurants, and through TRACTOR.
He began beekeeping because of a program that gave away Russian bees in order to create better resistance to mites. At the time, Mayland was conducting classes about bees, so Rick was able to accept these bees and learn about them as well. Rick is now a master beekeeper, a title held from the NC beekeeper’s association, and he is now teaching beekeeping. He currently has over 40 hives and is continuing to expand.
Little Creek Nursery
Yancey County (1 acre)
Little Creek Nursery, owned by June and Tony Honeycutt, is located in Burnsville. June is a Yancey County native, her family has been in the area since the early 1800s and has farmed for many generations. She and Tony decided to start a plant nursery after taking horticulture classes and becoming very interested in caring for young plants. The nursery sells a wide variety of plants including native azalea and rhododendron, though about five years expanded the business to also include mushrooms. Mushrooms are a good crop because they are able to produce in the off-season. They currently sell their shiitake mushrooms through TRACTOR.
You can also find her mushrooms and her seedlings at Little Creek Nursery (Little Creek Rd, Burnsville)
Yancey County (1 acre)
Peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash.
Riddle Farms is a 1 acre family farm located in Yancey County. Owner, Mike Riddle, comes from a long standing Yancey County farming family. Mike started out growing tobacco, Christmas trees, and tomatoes. While he still grows the tomatoes which is what he primarily sells to TRACTOR, he has stopped growing Christmas trees and tobacco, focusing instead on vegetable crops.
Mike has been living and farming on the land he is at currently since he was only 3 years old. Farming and gardening is Mike’s therapy. Mike likes the beginning of the process the most, starting to plant is the easiest part. Mike and his wife, Vicky, also run an Airbnb and have a wedding venue on their farm.
Grassy Knob Farms
Yancey County (5 acres)
Cabbage, corn, turnips, bell peppers, and broccoli.
TRACTOR’s first grower, Danny Thomason, has been farming his 5 acre farm in Yancey County for many years. Like many farmers in this area, the Thomason family started as tobacco farmers. When the tobacco industry crashed, Danny adapted, changing his specialty to produce. Danny had a chance to take a full ride to NC State, but rejected it because of his love for farming. He finds being outside and in the field much more stimulating than in a classroom. Danny likes growing cabbage the most, because it’s an easy process, whereas he likes growing beans the least because they are difficult to pick.
Bryant Family Farms
Yancey County (15 acres)
Heirloom tomatoes, peppers, red cabbage, beans, cucumber, squash
The Bryant Family has been farming in Yancey County since before the Civil War. Like many farmers in the area, Billy and his family farmed tobacco for many years —in fact, he grew his first tobacco crop of his own at age 11. At 16, Billy purchased his first bit of farmland on which he grew corn, tomatoes, and, of course, tobacco. Unlike many other tobacco farmers, Billy still grows it and has a contract to sell tobacco. However, he now focuses more heavily on growing vegetables with the help of his wife, Becky, and their children. The Bryants’ specialty is their Candy Stripe heirloom tomatoes from which they have been saving seed for over 100 years.
When asked, “What made you wanna pursue farming?” he replied, “It’s in my blood.” Billy likes growing in Burnsville because it is a bit of a microclimate, making the flavor of his tomatoes the best quality due to the slightly cooler climate beyond Madison mountain. Billy has been selling through TRACTOR since we started, due to the ease of marketing.
Billy also sells his produce directly to Ingles.
Yancey County (17 acres)
Potatoes, peppers, corn, onions, beans
Edwards Farm, owned by Jim Edwards, is a 10 year old, 17 acre farm in Yancey County. Jim grew up on a dairy farm and later, ran a tobacco and beef operation. He says the farm brought his family together and instilled values such as hard work, teamwork, tenacity, dependency, and doing a job properly. He inherited the farm he owns from his family. After the tobacco buyout, he transitioned to produce, specializing in green bell, jalapeno and serrano peppers. When asked why he likes growing peppers the most he said “it gives me a sense of satisfaction to grow peppers as big as pumpkins.” Experiencing the valuable service of creating markets and handling produce marketing for local farmers, Jim is now the warehouse manager at TRACTOR food and farms. Jim says that the best thing about growing and working in this area is the people. He loves the farming community in Yancey County.
Yancey County (5.5-6 acres)
Corn, pumpkins, beans, potatoes, squash, tomatoes
Brothers, Michael and Josh Blevins, just started farming 5 ½ – 6 acres in Yancey County. Farming has been important to their family for generations – their parents still grow their own vegetables and help Michael and Josh on their new farm. The Blevins now specialize in cabbage, while also growing corn, pumpkins, beans, potatoes, squash, and tomatoes. In addition to farming, they run a construction business; raise hogs and chickens; and sell their and other local farm’s fruits and vegetables at their produce stand.
The Blevins also sell their produce at their stand just south of Micaville at 5060 Highway 80.
Green Mtn. Farms
Yancey County (5 acres)
Cabbage, broccoli, peppers, sweet corn, red and white potatoes, bok choy.
Chris began growing produce roughly three years ago when TRACTOR provided him the opportunity do so, and now he grows exclusively for TRACTOR. Chris’ works full time with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, creating unique time-related challenges for his growing season. He, therefore, selects his crops based to supply minimal variations in harvesting periods. Having raised cattle, tobacco, and Christmas trees while growing up, Chris is embarking on a new adventure growing produce. He farms with the help of his brother Steve and Amy. They do all the harvesting on the farm by hand. Both brothers said that they love growing in this area because of the climate, the mountains makes the long days in the sun just a bit cooler.
You can see Chris’s cabbage, broccoli, peppers, sweet corn, red and white potatoes, and bok choy growing beautifully at Bowditch this season.
Yancey County (12 acres)
Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, eggplant, cabbage, broccoli, sweet corn, kale, squash, basil, pumpkins, potatoes.
Back in the 70’s Harolds brother in law got a little behind on a patch of tobacco and ended up giving it to Harold to take over. From that point on, he was hooked. When asked if there was anything he hated about farming he simply responded with “I don’t really hate anything about farming, I love the work.” Harold grew up in Western North Carolina. He started growing full time in 1992. With the help of his farming partner Adam McCurry, wife Sandra, and nephews Keith and Eric, Harold manages around 12 acres in Yancey County. They do most things on the farm by hand, especially when it comes to the harvesting. He was the first in the area to implement plasticulture and to open his own produce stand, selling produce from his own farm.
Harolds favorite thing to grow is heirloom tomatoes. He has about twenty varieties growing this season. “I just like to watch it grow”, he said when asked why he loves farming.
While nearly 60% of retail sales are at his stand, Davis also sells his produce at farmer’s markets, chain stores, and, of course, with TRACTOR.
McDowell County (2.5-3 acres)
Jalapenos, Chilies, Serranos, Kale, Collards
Both veterans, Lori and Jerome Bell are originally from Georgia but relocated to Burnsville NC a couple years ago. After spending an entire year looking for property here they stumbled upon a great spot that they love in Marion NC. They knew they wanted to start farming so this flat property was perfect. With changes in climate and soil associated with their geographic changes, the Bells reevaluated the optimal crop for production, moving away from the collards they grew in Yancey County and deciding to grow peppers in their new location. They currently have about three acres in production right now. While they were in Burnsville NC, however they found TRACTOR food and farms and knew they wanted to sell through them.
Jerome’s family is Georgia has been farming for over 100 years. Along with his father and grandfather have a large impact on him, his old neighbor Mr. Vernon also played a large role in his farming career. He spent a lot of time helping Mr. Vernon on his farm.
Since they have been on their property they have been mostly focusing on growing peppers. Their favorite thing so far to grow is serrano peppers. They have a couple different varieties this season to figure out what works best for them. Next season they plan on hopefully focusing completely on their farming. Lori said her favorite part of the process is harvesting because you get to see what you have done. They both love knowing that someone will get to eat and enjoy it.
Burke County (30 acres in produce)
Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, potatoes, and half runner beans
Matthew ,and growing partner Cale Smith, stay busy growing for TRACTOR and also running a successful Christmas Tree farm in Elk Park, NC. Matthew grew up in the farming world. His grandfather started growing cabbage, moved to cattle, and finally settled on Christmas Tree farming, which is what got Matthew started in the Christmas tree business. For TRACTOR, Matthew grows cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, half runner beans, and potatoes. His favorite crop to grow is squash. He said that he likes growing squash the most because it is a fairly quick crop and there aren’t a lot of pest problems. His least favorite thing to grow is tomatoes. Growing tomatoes can change quickly from year to year and other crops offer more stability. Matthew and Cale do most things on the farm by hand other than putting the plastic down. When asked why he decided to pursue farming Matthew simply said he really enjoys it. “It’s a challenge, and the everyday watching it to see what needs to be done, a lot of scouting to make sure you don’t have problems, that’s my favorite part.” Like most farmers, Matthew’s favorite part each growing season is the harvesting. He has farming land in Elk Park NC as well as Morganton NC. He has been growing with TRACTOR for four years now and said that we make the marketing side of farming so much easier for him.
Matthew also sells his produce is in local Packing Houses, Avery Produce, and at his on-site produce stand.
Rocky Hollow Farms
Yancey County (10 acres in production)
Broccoli, cabbage, corn, kale
Adam has been growing with TRACTOR since 2014. He grew up on a farm and is the middle child of three. Adam is the only child in the family to stay home and farm. He says, “We got our fill of it as kids. When I grew up we had no tv, we worked horses, raised primitively. We worked extremely hard.”
Adam married his high school sweetheart, April, they have one son, Levi. They, along with Adam’s farming partner, Harold Davis, currently grow approximately ten acres of mixed vegetables. For the past eight years he has helped other small farmers in the area in his role as Agricultural Technician for NC Cooperative Extension.
“I am extremely passionate about farming, I love it. It is the most important job on this planet. You would not be here without it, plain and simple.”
Adam bought the farm he grew up on from his father. He tried to quit farming at one point, but could not, so he is still farming as well as working as an extension agent and says he is the luckiest man alive to do what he does. “I get to help other farmers. And what makes me happy is when I help a farmer and they succeed. That’s all I want to see.” As an extension technician Adam works with farmers to help them from planning all the way through to the market, including production, techniques, etc. He truly cares about his home and farmers saying, “My goal is that when I am done and retired, that there is more agriculture in this county than when I started. That is my career goal.”
Tater Hill Farm
Mitchell County (6.5-7 acres)
Broccoli, kale, collards, brussels sprouts, peppers, potatoes, and cabbage.
Tater Hill Farm is a 70-year-old family farm owned by father and son team, Terry and George Moffitt. Terry has been farming his whole life and, like many farmers in the area, he began as a tobacco farmer. He transitioned to vegetables in 1987 and now farms with the help of his partner and son, George.
Terry says he likes to grow the brussels sprouts the most; they are difficult to pick but a good selling crop. The main crop they grow for TRACTOR is kale, which they have seven different varieties of. They also sell to the farmers’ market in Johnson City, which is why they grow such a wide variety of crops. They have been growing on the land that they are at now for about four years.
Jacks Creek Henterprises
Jacks Creek Henterprises is around a forty-chicken egg production operation in Burnsville, NC.
It is run by Drew Smoker who is a member of Mountain Heritage High School’s FFA Chapter. Drew is fourteen years old and has had pet chickens since she was in the second grade. Her mother always felt that kids are too far removed from food sources as well as death, and she did not want this to be the case with her children. Chickens die every three years so this seemed to be a good way to teach her children about life cycles.
Drew has a wide variety of breeds that lay different colored eggs. After receiving a grant from Organic Valley, Drew was able to keep more organic chickens. While it can be tough sometimes especially when dealing with the inevitable illnesses that will occur, Drew is obviously very passionate about raising hens and caring for them in order to produce the best eggs. She has help from her mother as well as Wayne Briggs, who helped her build her coops. This is her first year growing with TRACTOR. She was asked to contribute eggs to the CSA.
Pine Grove Farms
potatoes, pumpkins, and Christmas trees
Jeff Vance is not only one of our farmers for TRACTOR but he is also a Mitchell County extension agent. Jeff grew up in Avery County, North Carolina and has been farming for about 20 years, along with being an extension agent the past 24 years. His love of agriculture started with growing Christmas trees, which he has been doing since high school. He grows potatoes, pumpkins and Christmas on his farm in Avery County. He says that growing pumpkins and potatoes are his favorites. He started growing pumpkins for fun when his children were younger. The income he has made through farming over the years has helped put his kids through school. He says that his favorite part of the process is harvesting. “I just like being outside,” he said when asked what he liked best about growing in this area. Even though sometimes the weather can be a little unpredictable, which is his least favorite part, he has continued to farm because of his love of the outdoors.
Jeff has been growing with TRACTOR for three years now and said that working with TRACTOR makes his job easier because we find the market for the farmers. TRACTOR gives him more time to be in the field or somewhere else in Mitchell County helping out his fellow farmers.
Squash and half runner beans
Norris Davis grew up in the area. His family, like most, grew tobacco, so he has been farming his entire life. On top of farming for TRACTOR, Norris also works third shift at Feldspar Corps in Spruce Pine, North Carolina. When asked what he likes most about farming he simply said, “Everything… It’s an American thing.” Norris grows squash and half runner beans. He chose these because most people don’t like to grow beans because of all the manual labor, but he doesn’t mind to go through and pick them by hand. His goal is to have two earlier harvests this season and then donate all of his last harvest to people in need.
Norris does everything on the farm, from the planting to the picking. As he says, it’s “Just me and Jesus.” This is his first year growing with TRACTOR. In the past his farm has been just a family garden, but this year he decided to expand and try his luck farming for the public. He said if money wasn’t an object, he would farm everyday of his life.
Serious Dog Farm
Sean Wilson grows six varieties of hydroponic lettuce at Smith Mill Works in Asheville, North Carolina. He says growing butterhead lettuce is his favorite because it is the most heat tolerant variety, and works the best for greenhouse growing. “I’m really just trying to be as efficient and productive as possible” he said during his interview. This is Sean’s first year growing commercially so he is trying new things and figuring out what works best for his farm. His love of farming and gardening began when he was little. His mother always had a garden and he said some of his first memories are working in the garden with her. He served as an agriculture extension specialist in Ethiopia in the Peace Corps for two years. He taught people in his village about hydroponics and how to be most efficient with it. He said his favorite thing about growing in this area is the community and the support they show for local food. He loves being outside everyday in these mountains. His favorite part of the whole process is harvesting because of how rewarding it is.
This is Sean’s first year as a TRACTOR grower. This is his first year growing commercially and he said he has really enjoyed it and learned a lot.
Treehouse Family Farms
Kale, tomatoes, cilantro, radishes, turnips, carrots, lettuce
Steven and his wife, Lauren, recently moved to the Burnsville area. They chose Burnsville because it is close to Asheville, it’s a great local food hub, and also a great spot for Lauren who makes and sells her jewelry in Asheville, NC. They love this area as well as Asheville.
Steven has a degree in Botany. He said his journey here all started with a love of plants. His father raised cattle while he was growing up so his interest in farming started young. He grows a variety of cherry and heirloom tomatoes in a greenhouse. He grows them using a technique that will allow the vines to grow up to almost 80 feet long allowing them to get the most of the vine as he can. Stevens parents also help them on the farm.
This is his first season with TRACTOR. They try to focus on crops that they can flip over quickly. Tomatoes are his favorite thing to grow because they are the most challenging. He also loves growing cilantro because it is incredibly hard to grow in this area without it bolting. He sells to TRACTOR in addition to some restaurants in Asheville. When asked why he loved farming Steven said “For me it’s kind of a daily meditation, I just like that this is my job… this is fun for me, it makes me feel fulfilled.”
Nephews of one of our long time farmers Harold Davis, Keith and Eric are both Mountain Heritage High School Students. This is the first year with their own crop of cabbage that they are growing at Bowditch Bottoms. They said that they chose cabbage because it is one of their favorite things to grow, its an easy crop, and it has a great market. They both said they like to grow just about anything but they aren’t big fans of grape tomatoes, or beans because of the time commitment. Both boys really enjoy farming and are learning a lot from their experiences this summer. “I’ve done it all my life, ever since I was little” said Keith. They do most things on the farm by hand, depending on what they are doing.
Their uncle Harold along with Adam McCurry, an extension technician in Burnsville in NC and Harold Davis’s Farming partner, have been helping the boys get started this season.
Their favorite thing about farming is watching things grow. Keith said he see’s farming in his future while Eric said he might try something else when he is older. TRACTOR could not be more excited to see more young people interested in farming. They said that growing with us has given them more options when it comes to a market and even helping them get a better price for their produce.
Yancey County (1/2 acre in production)
Avery has his cabbage field in Burnsville, NC. Everything fell into place for Avery to farm cabbage; he had the land and the resources, as well as the help to determine what the market wants. The most difficult part of the process for Avery is running the cabbage setter, but at the same time, this is his favorite part of the process because this is the most activity that is done in order to grow the cabbage.
Avery’s family has always been farmers, they grew up in North Carolina growing tobacco. Avery feels like growing cabbage is almost like the same thing, except it is produce. He just started growing on a new ½ acre plot in Burnsville.
“I think the best part about growing in this area is if you’re a local burnsville person, and someone drives by and sees something going on down here, then they would come down here and help it without even calling me or asking me. So that’s nice to me. I get like twenty calls a week from people just asking how my cabbage is doing.”
Avery gets a bit of help on the farm from his father as well, and a couple friends who helped plan it.
This is his first year growing with TRACTOR. He said he chose to go through us because.. “TRACTOR is more guaranteed than taking your chances with farmers markets if you wanted to grow something. It’s not a guarantee, but for my first time farming I don’t have any connections yet and may not ever get any connections from somebody who wants this many cabbage plants. I put a lot of time and a pretty good amount of money in it. I just hope it turns out good, but that’s just farming.”
Jolly Growin’ Farm
Baby pam pumpkins, chard, kale.
Jamie grew up in south Florida on the beach, with no farmers in the family. He is a self taught chef turned farmer, and became interested in farming after years of working in the restaurant industry. Because his background working with food, knowing where food comes from is important to Jamie. He began to get a taste of farm life at Washington State near Seattle, and went on to volunteer on a farm as a CSA work share member. He ran a farm in 2010 in Flat Rock NC then worked on a CSA farm in Montana. When he and his wife, Molly, moved to Burnsville it seemed to make sense to start a farm of their own.
Jamie grows mostly baby pam pumpkins, as well as chard and kale. They just moved to a new piece of land from South Toe; the new place having more space to grow pumpkins. He likes growing the pumpkins because there isn’t a lot to take care of so it’s fun to just watch them grow.
Jamie says things grow well here and the beauty of Yancey county is what brought them here, along with the community and artists. He also works at mountain air country club as a facilities manager and gardener. He has an eight year old daughter who holds the title of their professional bug identifier and eradicator.
cabbage, cucumbers, and squash
Harley Fox was born and raised in Western North Carolina. His family like most, were tobacco farmers. He was twelve years old when he had his first tobacco crop. He says his favorite part of the process is cultivation. There really isn’t a part of farming that he doesn’t love. With the help of his children and four grandchildren he grows cabbage, cucumbers, and squash. They do most things on the farm mechanically except for some hoeing and when spraying needs to be done.
When Harley was growing up in this area farming was a way of life. He says,“It’s just something that gets in your blood and you like to do it. You enjoy eating what you grow and seeing other people eat what you grow.”
Harley owns and runs Bald Creek Tractor and Equipment, and has for many years. Many farmers come to Harley for tractor equipment questions or just farming questions in general.
One of Harley’s favorite quotes is by Thomas Jefferson. He has it hanging in his shop. The quote is “No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth”
Broad River Farm
Watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkins.
Ronnie and Luke are a father and son-in-law duo located in Rutherfordton, NC. Ronnie has been farming all his life in the footsteps of his father who grew sweet corn, cantaloupe, watermelon, and sweet potatoes. Ronnie’s father was famous for selling watermelon in the area; he would pile them up in the front yard and people would just drive up and grab them. By word of mouth, everybody in the area knew (and still does) that they grew the best watermelon in town. In addition to selling through TRACTOR, they also sell to produce stands in Rutherfordton.
Luke and Ronnie love growing in Rutherfordton because of the soil. Watermelon grows best in the topsoil because of how sandy it is. Lake Lure had a dam that busted in 1916 and the river flooded, which deposited an abundance of sand on the land, making it perfect to grow watermelon. When asked his favorite process when farming, Ronnie says, “Harvesting is the most enjoyable part because you’ve watched that product from the time it was a seed, until the time it produces a fruit, when it produces a fruit, there’s no better joy than going out there and seeing the fruit laying there and harvesting the fruit because that’s the fruit of the harvest. That’s your reward for what you did all year and that’s the enjoyment that the farmer gets out of seeing that.”
Luke and Ronnie use transplants from First Step Farm, a private non-profit that promotes recovery from drug and alcohol abuse to help them get back on their feet. Luke and Ronnie farm using a balance of tilling with tractor, hand planting and hand harvesting.
Madison County (1/4 acre + greenhouse)
Salad mix (kale, spinach, arugula, lettuce, chard)
Rand grows many different greens to sell to TRACTOR for his salad mix, in addition to a few other crops such as broccoli, cabbage, and radishes for his family. He and his wife have a 9 month year old son, and moved to Marshall just a few months ago from Chicago. He finds the soil to be a bit more difficult here because the soil in the midwest is more fertile, but is excited about new learning experiences and building up more nutrients and microorganisms on his new land by using plenty of compost. Rand worked on a farm in California and this is when he really started to fall in love with farming. After working long days he felt like he accomplished something by being able eat the fruits of his labor. Rand and his wife WWOOFed (World wide opportunities on organic farms) around the country for 6 months together which is when they really learned a lot about farming practices. After WWOOFing, Rand worked on an urban farm in Chicago for a little bit before starting a farm of his own in his grandmother’s backyard, along with working another full time job. He had 16 raised beds on her property and began to sell produce to a farmers markets in Chicago as well as to some local chefs.
They knew they wanted to move to western North Carolina, and got a good deal with their current space in Marshall so things just fell into place. Rand says, “I feel very fortunate, it’s like a little microclimate, I’ve noticed it’ll be around 10 degrees cooler here than in Asheville which is great for the greens. We also get a lot of rain which is nice, so yea I really like it here.”
When asked his favorite part of the process, Rand mentioned that he just got a new seeder so he has a new found love for seeding, but mostly his favorite part is planning it all; the strategy and watching it all grow. They also have a dog named Rio, who helps keeps deer and other small animals away.
When asked why Rand pursued farming, he mentioned how he always wanted to do something meaningful. After college he worked in the corporate world shortly, and hated it. He did not see a purpose in what he was doing, and when he started to learn more about health, food systems, and downsides of mass production of food, farming seemed to be the only thing that made sense. He loves producing a good product that really nourishes people, saying, “when you eat good you feel good, its essential.” He loves that farming involves both mental and physical aspects, the need to be creative but also being outside and working in the dirt. He looked for places to farm all over the country but chose Burnsville because of the great community and local movements happening here as well as the plethora of outdoor activities.
With a degree in Forestry, Nicole Robinson, FFA director, worked for the US Forest Service for many years, performing many different jobs. Once she had her two sons, things changed, and she decided to stay home with them. After a couple years she took a job working at Mountain Heritage high school. She soon was promoted to the position of FFA director and Agriculture professor. She says she wanted to go into business but when this opportunity she presented itself, she took the job.
FFA has 72 active members, which is the largest it has been in a long time. They now do a lot of hands on activities such as their school greenhouse and also the 3 plots they have at Bowditch. They do everything from pest identification to math in the field.
All of the produce that they grow is sold through TRACTOR. The FFA officers voted to have the majority of the money made to a scholarship for graduating seniors.
While there we also spoke with two FFA officers about what they love about the organization. Hannah, 16, is the Student Ambassador, and Bethany 15, is the Vice President. They both joined FFA because they had older sisters in the organization. It was also a great excuse for them to get outside and get their hands dirty. Hannah said that one of the best parts about being in FFA is everyone is like a family. They all hang out together and have fun outside of the organization as well. Bethany said that since being in FFA her public speaking skills have improved greatly. She now loves the rush of competing in annual competitions. Bethany said that her skills working in a group have improved since joining the organization. She knows that this skill will be extremely helpful for her bright future.
Squash, cucumbers, beans
Eric grows a couple different varieties of each of his crops, including half runner beans, cornfield beans, crookneck squash, straight neck squash, pickling cucumbers, and slicing cucumbers. Eric has lived in Burnsville his whole life, where he grew up farming tobacco with his parents. Both his parents and grandparents grew up and farmed in Burnsville. Eric says beans are his favorite to grow, and he does not have a least favorite, “I like to grow it all,” he says. Everything is done by hand on the farm, and he has help from his partner, Taylor.
When asked why he pursued farming, Eric says, “I always wanted to do it, I’d farmed growing up since I was small, but could never get the means to do it and the place to do it on my own until now. I wanted more than this, but this is a good start.” Eric is obviously passionate about farming because he said he just loves watching the plants grow (and being able to eat them!). The only time he doesn’t like farming is when, “I hate it when you work hard at something and it catches a disease or weeds take over.” This is Eric’s first year growing with TRACTOR.
Broccoli, cabbage, peppers, sweet corn, winter squash, red potatoes, white potatoes, and bok choy.
Steve grows with his brother and farming partner Chris Deyton. Chris and Steve grew up in Burnsville farming with their parents who grew tobacco and Christmas trees. Steve and Chris chose the crops that they did because for the most part they only have one harvesting time. This makes it easier for them since they both work full time jobs as well as farm. Whereas some other crops need to be harvested daily. All their harvesting is done by hand. Their wives, kids, and parents will all help on the farm when needed. They have been growing with tractor for the past four years. Growing with tractor has made farming easier by eliminating the need to hunt for a market. They like growing in this area because of the climate, the mountains makes the long days in the sun a bit cooler. Even though they both has full time jobs, Steve says they do it just because they love it. “The boys at work ask me why I do this, and I say well you play golf…. this is what I do.”
Common Ground Farm
Kale, chard, lettuce, peppers, summer and winter squash, tomatoes, onion, flowers.
Jim says he grows everything from A to Z; arugula to zucchini that is. He loves to grow a wide variety of different plants and crops, all certified naturally grown (CNG). Jim has been growing with TRACTOR since we started.
Jim’s favorite thing to grow is lettuce because of the quick turnover. He does not like to grow okra because he is not fond of the taste, so why grow it? He does all labor by hand, which is one of the more difficult parts of farming to him.
Jim grew up in Maine and has farmed all his life, his mother was very into agriculture so it has always been important to him. He has been farming in Burnsville since the 80s with the help of some friends, and sometimes has WWOOFers (Worldwide opportunities on organic farms) on the farm as well. He loves to farm because of the independence, improving the land and soil while just being outside, as well as because he sees farming and growing your own food as being a self sustaining political statement.
Jason has been growing potatoes with his wife Anna in Yancey County for the past year. He started because Adam McCurry, Yancey’s extension technician, recommended it. They made the choice to go through TRACTOR after Anna’s grandmother suggested we could help with marketing and efficiency. Both Anna and Jason’s families grew tobacco, and Anna’s grandfather raised beef and pork.
When asked why they like to grow in this area, Jason responded that this is home. They gardened as kids and have always loved farming. They have both lived in Yancey County their whole lives, and have been growing on their current land for the past year.
Lucky Leaf Farms
Kenny’s father started the business in the 80’s, and after he passed away Kenny and Becky took over. They grow all of their lettuce hydroponically. Kenny’s father had originally been growing tobacco hydroponically, but once the market in Tobacco fell, the Wilson’s switched to lettuce. They experimented for a while and then choose two varieties when they figured out what worked best. They can grow a whole head of lettuce in about a month and they grow all year-round. The two varieties they chose were a summer variety that is very heat resistant which works out really well for this very hot weather, and a winter variety that can stand the colder temperatures.
They sell their lettuce to TRACTOR along with a few other outlets. They both said that their lettuce is great for sandwiches or in a salad mix. Sometimes Becky will even make bouquets with her lettuce.
Kenny and Becky do all of the work on the farm with help from their son Trey. Becky’s favorite part is transplanting; she said she can do it by herself and it’s peaceful. They have been selling with TRACTOR for about 4 years now. TRACTOR makes it easier for them when it comes to the marketing and distributing side of the business.
Madison County (7/10 acres)
Casey grew up in Madison county near Burnsville and has been farming on his current land his whole life. He currently farms with this help of his father, who also grew up farming in the area. They used to grow tobacco, and now grow a red pontiac potato variety along with other produce in their garden. Casey does not particularly have a favorite crop to grow because he likes so many, but he did mention his fondness of potatoes. On the other hand, beans are quite tricky and he does not like how time consuming it is to grow them.
When asked why he loves farming, Casey responded simply, “I love to watch things grow.” He does most work mechanically, and plans to expand to a new 70 acre spot in Tennessee. This is Casey’s first year growing with TRACTOR.