This year on the Farm Tour we visited Breeze Farm. The farm was donated to NC State by the Breeze family, and is intended to further organic agriculture. It’s used as a “farm incubator”: aspiring and new farmers can rent land and use the existing infrastructure as they learn the ropes and build a client base. Many of the farmers come from Orange County’s PLANT class for new farmers.
Mike Lanier from the Orange County Ag Extension office gave us a tour. We saw the washing areas where the farmers clean their produce, and the storage coolers (shipping containers that use a simple air conditioner and a “CoolBot” to reach low temperatures) where they keep it until market. A lazy farm cat accompanied us. In the greenhouse, trays of seedlings waited for planting, and trays of sprouts were in all stages of readiness. Rogue beets grew in the ground, the accidental result of fallen seed.
Three farmers are currently renting space at Breeze Farm. We headed across the road to visit Tracy LaFleur of Sugar Hill Produce. This is her first year farming for herself, after years of internships at other farms. She sells through a CSA and, with the help of her husband Rob, at the Eno River and Greensboro Curbside Farmers’ Markets.
Spread over a few acres, they had rows of cabbage, lettuce, spinach, carrots, kale, strawberries, and more. There were also empty rows, rows covered in black plastic waiting to be planted, rows of plants covered with white row covers to keep out insect pests, and swathes with hay or red clover cover crop. Drip irrigation ran alongside the plants, and a row of beehives stood at the back side. Before we left, we were treated to seeing a swarm of bees in a tree next to the farm!
Read more about Sugar Hill Produce: http://www.sugarhillproduce.com/
Read about the PLANT class: http://www.orangecountync.gov/farms/breeze-farm.php