Alex and Betsy began Peregrine Farm west of Chapel Hill in 1981 and grew cut flowers, small fruit, and vegetables for local markets. They had degrees in Soils (Alex) and Forestry (Betsy) and wanted to live in the country and farm. There were few local markets; Weaver Street Market didn’t exist, the Carrboro Farmers’ Market was brand-new, and the local restaurant scene was just beginning.
The Hitts had participated in the first Earth Day activities in 1970 and wanted to manage their land responsibly. Concepts like “organic” and “sustainable” were just being developed, and the Hitts, as they put it, “worked to define what those words mean and then implement the practices that best support those goals.” They now run a diverse small farm: Betsy manages the cut flower production and Alex manages the vegetables. They still grow a quarter acre of blueberries, and for several years they raised turkeys for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
On the Piedmont Farm Tour, Alex leads groups of visitors past their European-style hoophouses, which slide on rails, enabling one hoophouse to cover different patches of land at different times. Then visitors pass through a greenhouse (filled with lilies on our visit) and into the fields. Numerous high tunnels protect the tomato crop from diseases. Rows of lettuce fill the neat, fenced fields. Everything is well ordered, and Alex shares many growing tips. Peregrine Farm is perfect for vegetable lovers.