Come out for Buff Orpingtons and…

Let’s talk numbers. Of the 35 farms participating in ASAP’s upcoming Farm Tour, 14 are new stops this year — some of which are also new to farming and trying new things on their farms. To get to know these newcomers a bit before the tour, just keep reading. Who needs 20 questions? These farms can share their stories and what you’ll see over tour weekend in just three.

Rhode Island Reds and Buff Orpingtons

ASAP: You’re new to the Farm Tour. Are you also new to farming?

Tom Brady, Mulberry Gap Farm, Marshall: Yes. In 2010, Deborah Kaye and I began farming at Mulberry Gap Farm, but I have been an organic gardener since 1986. My original goal was homesteading and feeding my family of four in Barnardsville. Deborah and I now focus on grass-fed and grass-finished beef and lamb, along with pigs, which can obtain half of their diet from pasture. We have 60-plus acres of healthy, organic pasture at Mulberry Gap, so this is the farming business that makes sense for us, and is in alignment with this farm.

Q: What will visitors see and experience at your farm during the Farm Tour?
They’ll see several animals that are listed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy as critical, threatened, recovering or watched. Our Red Poll cattle and Tamworth pigs (threatened) will be close in. Our sheep are Katahdin/Dorper crosses (recovering). We have several breeds of chickens, which will be out free ranging: New Hampshire Reds, Dominiques and Rhode Island Reds, and Buff Orpingtons.

Also, we’ll have short information sessions about Biodynamics. We will have our sheep set up in rotation so that folks can see intensive rotational grazing in action. In addition, Richard Cleveland of the Earth School will lead native, wild edible plant walks. And, we’ll have our lamb for sampling and sale, along with organic cornmeal and grits.

What’s your favorite fall crop to grow, or your favorite thing about fall on your farm?
One of my favorite crops that we grow are pumpkins. Of course, I love the fact that the heat eases up now. When the trees start turning colors, I start taking long walks and watching for deer tracks and rubs in the woods. I process my own deer meat and love that it comes from our land.

Bruise Berry Jam and farmcations

You’re new to the Farm Tour. Are you also new to farming?
Janet Peterson, Cloud 9 Farm, Fletcher:
I re-established an old blueberry patch and have offered U-pick berries since the 1970s, when the farm belonged to my parents. I inherited it and am trying to keep the family farm running. Lately, I’ve begun diversifying and trying new ventures. We’re trying pastured chickens. We also have a portable sawmill to cut our own lumber, and we can change your logs into lumber. We’re stewards of the forest, sustainably harvesting logs to keep the forest healthy. We have byproducts of that process, including mountain laurel that we turn into rustic decor. I’m also a beekeeper. My newest venture is a joint project with two other women beekeepers — Joan Chesick of Green Goddess Farm & Apiary and Diane Almond of Honey Bees and Heather Farm — called BeeBabe Made. We’re making balms, lotion and healing salves with products from our beehives.

What will visitors see and experience at your farm during the Farm Tour?
The main part of the farm now is our vacation rentals, for what I call farmcations. It’s just the two of us, Jeff Hambley and I, working the farm, but we have a veggie garden, cows and chickens — it’s great fun for kids to see the animals. They’ll get a hay wagon ride to the open house for the rentals. I’m also very interested in native pollinators, so we’ll have native pollinator homes for sale, as well as a display about how you can encourage them in your backyard. There will also be honey products, rustic décor pieces, my “Bruise Berry Jam” made of blackberries and blueberries, our fresh and frozen chicken, and more for sale.

What’s your favorite fall product to grow, or your favorite thing about fall on your farm?
I have to say it’s my honeybees — making sure they have enough stores for the winter, etc. Our idea with the cosmetics is taking the healing things on our farm and getting them to heal! It’s nice to have these healing products going into fall and winter.

Meet hogs and roaming ewes

You’re new to the Farm Tour! Are you also new to farming?
Wendy Noel, Dry Ridge Farm, Mars Hill:
Dry Ridge Farm is brand new. We started farming on our own property in February.  While we’re new to farming our own land, (my soon-to-be-husband) Graham Brugh and I are not new to farming. Graham has managed a large-scale organic vegetable farm, and he spent the past three years managing several hundred head of cattle and a 30-sow herd in the Piedmont. I spent several seasons working on organic vegetable farms and a year at a pastured hog farm. We’re excited to be embarking on our own farm venture together, providing high-quality meat products to Asheville and its surrounding counties.

What will visitors see and experience at your farm during the Farm Tour?

They can expect to see a lot of animals, including the most exciting new additions: our piglets that will be a couple weeks old. We’ll have a short and long guided walking tour available every 20 minutes, both of which will bring visitors to meet our hogs, lambs and laying hens. They’ll learn as much as they want about the breeds we’ve chosen to raise, how we care for them and for our land, and what it’s taken for us to get started and operating over the course of our first six months. The long tour will also take visitors to the highest point of our 43 acres, where our meat chickens forage and our ewes roam our pastures.

What’s your favorite fall product to grow, or your favorite thing about fall on your farm?
Our favorite part of fall this year will be the fact that our two main products, pork and lamb, will be ready for market. The fall season means more chicken, rabbit and lamb stews, root vegetables and winter squash for dinner. There’s nothing better to warm you up after a long, cool day tending to animals out in the fields.

Check out for more tales from new farms and farmers. We’ll be posting more over the next two weeks.


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