Dani and Austin Genke’s journey to Boxcarr Farms in Cedar Grove began in New York City, where they met working at a restaurant while Austin was in culinary school. When Austin graduated, Dani followed him to his first job in Las Vegas, but they knew they wanted a different kind of restaurant: one that used fresh produce from local farms. Austin’s sister led them to Orange County. She worked at Goat Lady Dairy and is now with Chapel Hill Creamery. In 2009, the Genkes bought 30 acres with an 18th century farmhouse and a pond in Cedar Grove, where they live with their son, Ariyeh and two dogs. They named their farm Boxcarr because they hope to build their dairy out of reclaimed boxcars.
Their dream is to have a dairy for cheese-making and a restaurant, but they’ve begun with the farm, selling at the farmer’s market, and running a food truck and catering business that use their own produce as well as that of neighboring farms. Their fields and greenhouse contain a little of everything: old standards like tomatoes and chard, as well as less common items like asparagus and fennel. Their flocks of chickens produce a variety of colors of eggs, while pigs provide meat. They know what other farmers have in supply (like greens from Two Chicks Farm, or sweet potatoes from Hurtgen Meadows); it helps that Austin is the president of the Eno River Farmer’s Market.
Boxcarr Farm is a beautiful spot to visit, on a quiet country road and surrounded by other farms and forest. To the east, horses graze behind a fence, and across the road are cows and a hay field. Behind the sunny yellow farmhouse, goats (including BABY GOATS!) mill around in their pen under the trees. Visitors can feed grass to the mama goats; the babies are still drinking milk but are available for petting. The growing herd will someday produce milk for the dairy.
A few chickens choose to live in the goat’s shed, but most live out on the fields behind the pond, where two bright red portable hen houses enliven the view. Seven roosters take turns crowing throughout our visit. A pair of ducks drifts around on the pond. Dani would like for the ducks to hatch a set of eggs, but the female lays her egg in the henhouse each day and abandons it. On the day of our visit, the pigs are living in the woods behind the newly cleared acres, trotting through stumps and branches to reach their food bin when we call them.
The Boxcarr Farms food truck, “Local In Motion,” is parked in the front yard. The truck will be serving on Farm Tour days with extended hours to accommodate visitors before and after the tour. Come early for brunch before you visit farms, or have dinner and relax after a full day on the tour. Bring a blanket for picnicking. The truck’s hours will be 11:30 am to 5:30 pm. (As a reminder, the Farm Tour hours are 1 to 5 pm.) The menu for the weekend is not decided, but you can get an idea of the fresh foods they make (like a Toasted Biscuit with braised greens, pickled red onion, and aioli, or an Egg Salad Sandwich with arugula, radish, and homemade pickles) from the menus on their website .
Visit Boxcarr Farms and the other participating farms during the Piedmont Farm Tour April 28-29. You can also find them at the Eno River Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, with the Local In Motion food truck at Fullsteam Brewery on alternate Thursday nights, and online at http://www.boxcarrfarms.com/ . Watch a video of our visit on Youtube.