Though Allison and Daniel both grew up on farms and went to school for agriculture, they still face the same challenges any young farmers face: having enough capital, being taken seriously by the older generation, balancing off-farm jobs until they can afford to farm full-time.
But with their skills, grit, and faith, along with a good measure of support of their family and community, you get the real sense that they're going to make their farm dreams a reality.
How long have you been farming? Daniel was raised on the family farm where we are now. It was a large production dairy until 1989. Multiple family owners own parcels throughout the farm. Allison was raised on a small dairy goat/pasture poultry farm and orchard. We both went to school for agriculture (Daniel Ag Business & Allison Ag Education/Animal Science), and we both worked on the University Farm - that’s where we met.
Do you farm full-time? We both have off-farm jobs. Daniel works for NC Agricultural & Technical State University Farm as the Crop Coordinator and Assistant Superintendent. Allison is the Administrative Assistant for Orange County Asset Management.
What do you produce? Do you have a specialty? We produce Certified Naturally Grown fruits and seasonal vegetables. We also sell grass-fed beef, pastured pork, poultry and goats.
What are your markets? Our main market is the Saxapahaw Farmers Market, and we have a fantastic CSA. We also sell to the Saxapahaw General Store, and The Eddy Pub.
Why did you get involved with CNG? We have always raised everything on our farm to be 100% all natural.
What is unique or unusual about your farm? We are a young married couple running this farm with the help of family and friends. We pay in food and labor. The community we are in is unbelievable. We are also unique because we work with other local businesses to keep a full circle of no waste.
What was your most positive farming experience? Our community is amazing. We have had so many instances where we needed to get up hay right before a storm and the two of us would have struggled if it wasn’t for our fellow farmers and family.
Talk about the biggest challenge you’ve encountered as a farmer. For us it is being the “young guys”, it was extremely hard in the beginning for us to earn people’s respect. Also being young farmers we run into the issue of money. We are trying to make everything pay for itself instead of taking out loans and starting out in the hole. It’s always a challenge but no matter what we keep trying.
What advice would you give to a farmer just starting out? Do not give up. Even if everyone is against you keep going and kill them with kindness. Do not give up when you lose your first crop to frost or your first goat kid. This is life, this is the life of a farmer and you need to learn from those tough times. God does not give you something he knows you can’t handle...you can do it!
Have you ever wished you hadn’t become a farmer? NEVER! There are always rough days no matter what job you have but the good outweighs the bad with farming. You can have the worst day - equipment breaking, injuries, crops failing - but at the end of the day God always gives you something to be thankful for be it a new calf, food on your plate or a full pantry.
Who are your mentors or heroes in the farming world? James Herriot (Alf White), Temple Grandin, & Neal Lasley (grandfather)
What's something you learned the hard way on the farm? Everything! We learn something everyday and learn little tricks to jobs that we have been doing for years. When farming on a budget you learn how to work smart quickly!
What unexpected customer interactions have been especially rewarding? Seeing anyone that has never been on a farm come out and catch a chicken for the first time or let a cow lick their forehead…That is amazing to me and rewarding because I can teach people to appreciate farming.
If you were magic and could change one thing about our food system, what would it be? Every school would have a garden so children can assist in the growing of their lunches, food stamps would only be good at farmers markets, doctors will prescribe fruits and vegetables instead of pain meds, teach the world to farm on 1 acre/family.
Most useful piece of clothing: Boots! Our boots work year-round!
Most unusual farm tool - Pigs are great tillers!
Favorite vegetable- Definitely corn. Our silverqueen corn is unbelievable.
What’s your favorite dish to cook at home? - Everything! We eat from the freezer and pantry year around. You can’t beat a fresh tenderloin with mashed potatoes, corn & peas, and green beans!
Favorite season: Fall. Fall is our time to enjoy our harvest, invite out family, friends and customers to eat and have fellowship with us, to finally begin to calm down and prepare for the winter. If you have ever experienced a North Carolina Fall you understand!
Guilty pleasures: Farming & fishing, and anything outside.
What would you be if you weren’t a farmer? I think farming is just in our blood. There is nothing else we want to be.
What plans or hopes do you have for your farm in the future? Our biggest goal and dream is to be able to farm full-time, have a farm store that will not only be stocked without year around goodness but also other farmers goods since it is so difficult to sell products or get into farmers markets for some of these small craftsmen, farmers, and bakers! We would also like to have an area where we can have educational tours, classes, and meetings to be able to get more people in our community interested in locally grown goodness.