By Emily Buehler
Donnald and Audrey Lin never take a break. The founders of Two Chicks
Farm in Hillsborough spend their summers growing produce in the fields
and in shade houses, and their winters growing in hoophouses and ramping
up production of their preserves: fermented krauts and kimchis, pickled
vegetables, and their infamous Pepper Jelly. They attend several
year-round Farmers’ Markets and additional markets in the summer, and participate in the Piedmont Farm Tour. And, we now carry their products at Weaver Street Market!
and Audrey moved to North Carolina from Texas and began Two Chicks Farm
in 2008. Debbie had worked at a plant nursery where she learned about
organic growing; they knew they wanted to start some kind of farm. When
they discovered the Triangle’s active local food movement, they decided
to grow food. Now they are both full-time farmers.
bought ten acres close to downtown Hillsborough; coming from Texas,
they were tired of driving long distances to get places. The trade-off
was they had to clear the land, but they now have a few acres cleared, a
large open area in a ring of tall trees. “We don’t want to clear
anymore,” Debbie says. “This is it.” Large garden beds fill most of the
clearing, some planted with rows of onions, beets, cabbages, and the
farm’s popular carrots, others filled with cover crops of flowering
clover or oats. Two hoophouses contain rows of tomatoes, cucumbers,
arugula, chard, and lettuces. In the summer, they roll up the sides of
one house to let the tomatoes and summer plants grow in the open air.
The other house becomes a “shade house” to protect greens
traditionally grown in spring from the summer sun and extend their
Chicks farm uses a variety of organic methods to grow their vegetables.
Cover crops and crop rotation renew the soil. The health of a cover
crop can also indicate nutrients that the soil needs. They make their
own vermicompost and get additional compost from Brooks, the company
that Weaver Street Market uses to compost food waste and PLA containers.
They make their own potting soil in an old rotating composter; Debbie
demonstrates the “soil block” press she uses to create soil blocks in
which to start seeds. Debbie and Audrey do foliar feedings, spraying the
leaves of plants with nutrient-rich mixtures (made with ingredients
like seaweed). They’ve sprayed nematodes (tiny beneficial critters that
kill garden pests) and released ladybugs. Bluebirds nest in the bluebird
boxes surrounding the fields, as well as in the house on a pole
intended for purple martins. A beehive near the house is kept by a
friend in Durham who doesn’t have the space.
and Audrey take food production a step further by preserving many of
their vegetables. They rent a kitchen space near town where they
can leave their jars in a temperature-controlled room. They're working to ramp up production to keep us well-stocked; they've also had to turn to other local growers, like Eastern Carolina Organics (ECO) because they cannot grow as much as they need. We currently carry their sauerkraut and pepper jelly. “We’re busy, but we like it,” Debbie says.
Watch a video of our visit to Two Chicks Farm on Youtube. Visit Two Chicks Farm’s website at http://www.twochicksfarm.com/ .