You may not see many bluebirds at Bluebird Meadows this year . Alice and Stuart White are just now making their bluebird boxes, hoping the birds will notice and move in. But you will see a classic small farm, just starting its second year of production.
Alice named the farm after the scads of bluebirds flying about at the land she farmed three years ago, at her mom’s rental house in Hillsborough. That year, Stuart worked at Maple Spring Gardens, north of town. A year later, the two joined forces at Bluebird Meadows and, enabled by the money they earned from CSA shares, they began to farm full-time. At the end of the year, they bought their own land in Hurdle Mills—30 acres with a pond, a spring, and the remains of a house—and moved all their equipment there, giving Bluebird Meadows a permanent home.
It may seem like they’re making a big commitment rather quickly, but they’re both sure that farming is right for them. “We still look at each other every day and say, ‘I can’t believe we get to do this!’” Alice says.
And the universe seems to be supporting their decision. The few cleared acres on their new land had been used as a cow pasture for 30 years. Then the owner had planted a cover crop, so that when Stuart and Alice arrived, eight inches of good dirt waited for them to plant. The large pond ensures water in case of another drought. They managed to buy the necessities: a tractor, a cooler, and a hoop house for winter farming. A friend traded them her greenhouse for produce. “We just need more tables,” Stuart says, looking over the trays of seedlings lined up in rows on the greenhouse floor.
In only its third year, their CSA is sold out; they’ll be supplying 70 families with produce this summer. The rest of their produce, from lettuce to strawberries to shiitake mushrooms to an “experimental” fall cauliflower variety planted in March, will be sold along with cut flowers at the Durham Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings. Stuart and Alice plan to diversify, adding fruit trees and berry bushes, and perhaps rabbits or small game birds. “We’ve gotta get our house built first,” Stuart says.
With their Farmers’ Market regulars nagging them to be on the Farm Tour, Alice and Stuart signed up as soon as Bluebird Meadows had a permanent home. They want their customers to be able to see the farm, and to spend time talking to them, which isn’t always possible at market. Plus it will be fun to see the community on their farm. “I don’t know what to expect,” Stuart says. “We’re kind of far, out here.” But going to Bluebird Meadows is one of the most scenic rides in the Piedmont. So take a drive out on Farm Tour day!