Farm Tour Day 2

We went on the Farm Tour (see blog post from yesterday) yesterday and today. I wasn’t sure we would be going out again today, but then last night I spotted a farm I just had to see in the brochure.
Edible Earthscapes was the gem of the day. What drew me to this farm was the description of, “…emphasis on Asian heriloom varieties. You will see unusual vegetables, herbs, and flowers and a mixture of Western and Japanese growing techniques. Our rice fields…” Well, if you know us, you know our interest was immediately peaked.

I quickly found their website and read a bit more about their farm and things offered. They have shishito peppers!! I never thought I would find these locally unless I grew them myself. I had actually intended to grow some this year, but never got around to ordering the seeds in time. We have been yearning for shishito peppers for over two years now. They are lovely mild peppers that are incredibly tasty when grilled and brushed with yakitori sauce.

So today we made a somewhat hurried lunch of things we found around the house, then headed out to Moncure, NC to see the farm. It turned out to be our favorite farm yet.

These farmers, a Japanese woman and her American husband, had lived in Japan until a few years ago. While living in Japan they had farmed, and wanted to move back to the States and continue to farm. Some friends convinced them to come to Moncure, and then one of their friends offered them an acre of land as a “farm incubator” so that they could start their farm without having to buy land.

They have been farming that acre for three years now, and in the last year or two purchased some adjoining property. Their plan was to become established and then leave the original acre to someone else that needed to start their own farm. It was pretty interesting to see how much they could grow in such a small space.

The owners seemed quite friendly and open to questions, we really liked what they were doing and the model they had for their farm. They were getting a lot of financial questions from the tour group, which I was a little surprised at, but the farmers didn’t seem to mind answering.

They were living off savings when they first started the farm, and have just now gotten to where they aren’t living entirely off of savings. The husband was our tour guide, and he spoke of future plans for turning it into a real business that would let them live comfortably. Right now they are trying to avoid having to take a job outside the farm because it needs so much of their energy and time. It seemed like they were struggling to realize their dreams and were sticking with it, you have to admire them for that.

The farm’s current model is a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture. It is kind of a co-op deal. People can give money at the beginning of a growing season in order to help a farm purchase what is needed for the growing season. In return for the shared risk, the members of the CSA get produce weekly from the farm. Edible Earthscapes allow members to pick up their box of produce weekly in Moncure or at the North Hills farmer market on Saturdays in Raleigh. The CSA fee covers May-October and evens out to about $20 per week for 3-4 people or $12.50 for 1-2, so it really isn’t that bad. We are considering doing this next year. In the meantime, I think we will be visiting them at the farmers market!

While at their farm we picked up some shishito peppers, daikon, and okra. The wife said they had sold out of the peppers yesterday, so while we were on the tour she picked all she could from the field. It only equaled about half a sandwich bag, but we were happy.

On the way home we stopped off at a vineyard in Durham (meh, not worth talking about really) and then headed to Cary for a Meat House run. At the Meat House we decided tonight would be a burger night since we needed something fast in order to squeeze in our weekly grocery shopping tonight.

We grilled some of the okra and all of the peppers along with the burgers. The shishito were awesome, I can’t wait to get more!