Jillian and Ross Mickens have done what many only dream of: turned an interest in “where food comes from” into a full-fledged farm. Working with a former tobacco farm, they’re growing produce, flowers, and nutrient-dense microgreens.
Influenced by popular press about food, the pair began growing their own vegetables. Their backyard garden “got out of hand,” and they decided to look into farming as a business. They took the PLANT at Breeze Farm Enterprise Incubator offered for aspiring farmers by Orange County and spent three seasons farming on land available to the class at W.C. Breeze Farm. In 2015, they began farming on their own land: forty-three acres in northern Orange County. They’ve been clearing the pastures of saplings and amending the soil. “It’s a lot of land, but we have lots of plans,” Jillian says.
They’ve begun with a production area of ten quarter-acre plots on which they rotate produce and cut flowers. In a greenhouse, trays of microgreens grow for two to three weeks before harvesting. The microgreens are flavorful greens that can be added to salads; they provide Open Door Farm with a year-round crop to bring to market. The farm sells at area farmers’ markets, to local restaurants, and through a CSA with Everlaughter Farm.
Visit Open Door Farm on the Piedmont Farm Tour to learn about life as a new farmer, managing produce production, and how to grow microgreens. Try some microgreens, and walk to the pond to scout for birds and other wildlife. Watch a video of our visit below. Visit Open Door Farm online at http://www.opendoorfarmnc.com/.