Cindy and John Soehner are the farmers behind Eco Farm, 23 acres west of Carrboro. With the help of their children, they grow year-round produce, shiitakes and strawberries, flowers, eggs, and their famous sungolds.
Cindy likes to call their farm “More-ganic.” They haven’t paid for certification but farm according to organic standards. This means weeding by hand or using row covers to control weed growth in the rows, encouraging beneficial insects, and rotating crops to maintain soil health. Stalks and leaves are tilled under to become fertilizer for upcoming crops; as they pick the tomatoes, John throws the culls over the fence for the local turtles. The Soehners use a well and ponds for irrigation. They are first generation farmers, but the land was farmed before; John is grateful to the previous tenant. “There’s not a rock out there,” he said when we interviewed him.
The Soehners grow what people want to buy; at various times through the years, they’ve become famous for their arugula, their shiitakes, their sungold cherry tomatoes, and most recently their u-pick strawberry field. They raise chickens for eggs and spent several years raising hogs. The chicken coop also houses a grand turkey, a pet who was rescued from a UNC frat party. John is on the farm full-time and supplements the farm income with a cut firewood business in winter. Cindy manages the rows of zinnias, cosmos, and sunflowers that she cuts for market. Cindy also works behind the bakery counter in our Carrboro store. She’s also the farm photographer and author of several books including Diet of the Gods, a Greek vegetarian cookbook.