Sustainable and locally grown food of the North Carolina High Country.
Let your food fuel you not fool you. That’s my tag line for this post. If food is the fuel for life it’s quality should be of the upmost importance. Not only for it’s impact on our bodies, but also for the environment we love. With the amount of food that must be produced to feed our 7 billion (and some) population, farms have their hands full. But with the focus on quantity, the food industry has lost sight of quality. We could spend hours talking about what industrialized farms are doing wrong, how bad their techniques are for the environment and the negative affects their foods have on our bodies. However, rather then focus on what’s gone wrong, we want to focus on what’s going right.
The tour this past Saturday included ten farms located around Watauga County, but, we only made it to a handful of them. We are stoked to share what we discovered at each farm we visited!
Against The Grain
First of all, shout out to the awesome name! Against the Grain is a 20-acre farm located in Zionville, North Carolina. Holly Whitesides and Andy Bryant see holistic land stewardship as one of the most important aspects of farming. Inspired by this vision, they have created a system to produce delicious biodynamically grown foods.
The first thing you see, as you enter the Against the Grain property, is a beautiful, flowing creek. Or, if you’re Joel, the first thing you see is the sailboat sitting in the yard. As we crossed the bridge, we immediately fell in love with this farm. Right away, we were greeted by Holly. She was sweet, intentional, and welcoming. During our short conversation, she talked to us about dreams, sailing, and owning a farm. As we signed in, Andy came over caring a batch of homemade root beer. We loved how rad and down to earth Holly and Andy were. Walking around the property, we were even more impressed by the sustainable, responsible, and biodynamic practices used at Against the Grain.
Just a taste of what biodynamic farming is from Against the Grain’s pamphlet:
reduces or eliminates inputs from outside the farm, such as organic or chemical fertilizers & pesticides. Instead, preparations & composts are created so that the farm is a sustainable organism that can help replenish itself year after year.”
Amy Fielder and her mother, Jean, grow all kinds of veggies, shitake mushrooms, and raise pastured pigs on their certified organic farm. Amy is a lively person and shared everything from hard times the farm has faced to their plans for the years to come. She excitingly welcomed us to the farm and told us to walk around and check out anything, including the barn, if we wanted. Then, Amy went off to lead some other people on a tour of the farm. We loved that about her. Farmers really shouldn’t have anything to hide from their consumers. Everything on this farm was beautiful, from the pollination garden at the center of the farm, to the love the owners have for their pigs.
We are usually wary of food industry meats, but Shipley Farm put burgers back on our table this week. Three generations of Shipleys work together to provide mountain pasture-raised beef, with no added hormones or steroids.
After being directed to a parking spot by two of Shipley’s young farmers in training, we walk over to a crowd of baby goats and children running around. On our tour, we learned that pasture-raised beef contains around three times the Omega-3 then that found in non-pasture-raised beef. So, not only is the quality and taste of pasture-raised beef outstanding, it’s healthier. And the Shipley farm doesn’t just pasture-raise their beef for early stages of life. Their beef is pasture raised from start to finish.
One of our favorite things about this farm was the family dynamic. Everyone was involved, from the kids helping herd cattle (and cars), to R.G Shipley at 103 sitting under a tent sharing stories.