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.