Abingdon: Meet the Locals [Neal Reid]

Can I tell you something? I just love meeting these local super heroes more and more. Each week I learn another tidbit about how incredible nature is. Nature takes care of itself, we only need to guide it. Every bit of bounteous beauty contained in this world…it’d be impossible to see it all in a single lifetime. But come down to Virginia and you might see a large portion.

Meet Neal Reid of Spring Ridge Farms or Neal’s Produce. Born and raised in Southwest Virginia, he runs a farm out in Damascus and sells produce at the Farmer’s Market each Tuesday and Saturday. Learning is his aim, and vegetables are his game. Tomatoes, onions, garlic, potatoes, squash, zucchini, beets and strawberries. He also dabbles with lemons, corn, sunflowers, and much more. His sunflowers are ever so stunning.

 

He’s an experimenter, using methods such as intercropping, crop rotation and cover crop. Having worked in several fields before coming back to his roots, his hunger for knowledge shines through, as well as some corny puns. But those are always welcome.

With coffee in our hands, and the mountains as our backdrop, I stopped by the farm to take a tour and ask a few questions about his journey back to the soil…

“Sarah: When did you start helping out on the farm?

Harvesting potatoes

Neal: My Granddad was Sheriff here in the county for a while, so at the time he was really very part time on the farm and I was…he had 4 grandkids, 2 of them grew up down there and my brother and myself grew up here…and so we were around to help him with stuff, the few things he tried to do. He would grow a small garden behind his house there, and he would usually grow about 2 acres of tobacco in this field, which is pretty good. I have tomatoes down there now, I think they’re pretty good. Not to tell you what to shoot.

S: Oh no, please, if they’re your favorites.

N: So, yeah, I would work in tobacco and that was kind of hard.

S: Tobacco’s not something you hear about people growing anymore.

N: It’s gone away, yeah. I think I mentioned at the market about Appalachian Sustainable Development [ASD]. Anthony Flaccavento, good fellow, he and some other progressive minded folks who ended up here, and were interested in agriculture…they got together and started ASD. Part of the thrust of that was that farms in the area at that time, there was a lot of federal support for subsidies or at least an allotment, or an amount that you were allowed to grow on your farm based on the size of the farm, I guess. So our allotment was 2 acres. And where ASD comes in on that is that they saw a lot of these farms moving away from tobacco, and really a lot of farmers in the region ended up without their crops, crops were dropping out from under them. So what they wanted to do was help people who were in that situation find markets, find packing and kind of community infrastructure. They built a packing house and processing facility where they could have a chance at a market outside of tobacco. You’re right, you barely see any at all now, and ASD’s work is to try to continue to help people who want to farm but don’t have that crop anymore. They’ve helped me with tons of training. They’ve helped me get an organic certification in the past. They just constantly support me with grant support programs, tools, seeds, things like that. For me, being a part, sort of on the inside of that and seeing both sides of tobacco and organic produce production, I feel like they’re really helpful here in our community.

S: Do you hold any place on a board?

N: Oh lord, don’t give anyone ideas.

S: You know, we were talking about stretching ourselves thin enough where the pieces will fall into place as it happens, but, like, not so far that it’s impossible. But always stretch yourself thin, because great things will happen.

N: I try to do that with my planting plan. Where I have sort of more space than I can responsibly manage, even at 1 acre here. I have the same sort of approach. Like, get really aggressive, try to plant a lot and you’ll get the weeds pulled. You’ll figure out how.

S: Figure it out, exactly. So tell me about the CSA [Community Supported Agriculture] baskets? Do you put them together?

CSA basket

N: So, for now, I’m a part of a CSA that is picked up in Kingsport once a week. It’s either 24 or 12 customers, it’s bi-weekly. Me and 3 or 4 other growers combine to fill up the boxes each week. And so right now the guy that sort of manages the fund, he e-mails at the beginning of the week and asks, “What do you guys have? We have this many customers, what can you put in the boxes this week?” So, I’ll take a look at what’s there and what I’m planning to harvest, what I’m planning to take to market and what restaurants need, and then go from there. It’s sort of an extra thing I wasn’t planning on so much this year. I got asked to be a part of it. It’s been really great. A lot of the stuff I planted aggressively has ended up going there when it needed to go. I haven’t really had to compost anything this year. Everything I’ve harvested has pretty much sold or I’ve given away.

S: That’s great.

N: Yeah, that’s been an improvement. I hope to be able to keep that up for the season.

S: Is that what people do when don’t sell stuff at the farmer’s market? End up using it for compost?

N: I try giving them away first, to the food bank or to…if I have enough to where I feel like it’s something that they want even…the only things that end up in the compost are really malformed fruits or something that’s way too big. My chickens eat my damaged second tomatoes now.

S: Yes, a feast!

N: Sort of recycle those into eggs. So, CSA for me this year is something I’m really excited about being a part of. And I’m looking to try to build another sort of new-ish one next year with a couple of other growers that I know. I’m looking to put together enough farmers that want to commit and are looking to get that started. Do some marketing in the wintertime, some Facebook, maybe. Social media, try to sign some people up. And next year do a little more planting towards that and selling produce in that way. It’s nice because it’s kind of like a restaurant order. I can pick it the morning of the delivery and sort of do it all together. Sell it all at once versus sitting around at the Farmer’s Market.

 

S: So, I’m just curious about what your daily schedule is here?

N: Yeah? The truth or the Facebook version.

S: The truth.

N: The unvarnished truth. I get up early. One part of what keeps me here, that I’ll fight like hell to never stop, is that I don’t set an alarm clock. I never have. Except if it’s a late Friday night, and there’s market on Saturday morning…I don’t wanna leave it to chance.

S: Do your chickens wake you up?

N: Not yet. They’re still young. Ideally I like to step out, make my coffee and try to wake up a little bit. I come out here and look and think about what needs to be done, if I haven’t sort of made a plan from the day before and it isn’t obvious or on fire…something that needs immediate attention. On Tuesdays I get up and pick for the market early so that the heat doesn’t wilt the greens. Then I clean for the market and get everything packed and ready for that. If I have more time, a nap or weeding. Yeah, siesta is a big part of my day, almost daily.

S: I can imagine with the heat.

 

N: It’s so hot, yeah. So, if I get started at 6:30 or 7:00, work 5 or 6 hours in the morning, then I’m ready for a nap.

S: You worked a few jobs in between college and now. When did you begin farming?

N: I started thinking, what’s something else that I could stand doing? After reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book [Animal, Vegetable, Miracle], I started thinking I should at least be growing my own food, or at least trying to. And I became more and more concerned about what I was eating and why organic matters and GMO’s and all that kind of stuff. So, I built a couple of box gardens up there and started selling some stuff out of that. And that was about 3 years ago. 2 years ago I built this garden area back here…and started selling at Glade farmer’s market. That market was really nice. That’s where I met the Wolfs. Sweet folks.

S: Do you get your supplies from them?

N: Everything. I wouldn’t dream of cheating on them. They seem to trust me too, and I’m glad for that. I like when people like that trust me.

S: It’s funny because they talked about that, too, that that’s a huge part of why this local community is so important. You trust what you’re eating. You don’t have to question it because you know them, you know their character. What does that community mean to you?

 

N: Supporting my business endeavor, it’s obviously important. That community is like an island of sanity, at the farmer’s market. I made a lot of friends there over the past few years that I’m really happy about knowing and connecting with and learning from. One reason I started doing it is I admired the people so much when I started as a shopper, ya know, I look up to them and admire them tremendously. That they’re able to do it and they’re willing to do it, and I envied that they were able to it. And so, yeah, it’s important for more reasons than just trying to have a place to work. I don’t know how to say that without sounding sappy, but it’s a break for me that I need each week. Without it, I’d probably be more cynical.

The guardian garden spider

S: Yeah, understandable. Is it harder being a younger farmer?

N: In some ways I think with new customers at the farmer’s market. And especially if my table looks a little less. Being new and, ha younger, it perhaps makes people a little more reticent to stop by me for something that they could get from someone who’s older or that they know or have seen there and recognize that that person’s been here longer than him. I think perhaps there’s some room to grow there. On the other hand, folks support me because of that. A lot of folks do. Either they say it overtly or I pick it up that that’s something that’s important to them as a shopper. They’ll say thank you for doing this. I’m happy to buy your produce. And for me, that’s good to hear.

S: Probably, like, giving a face to the younger generation too. More people are leaving these towns. People have more reasons to leave, so I’m sure that helps to see a younger farmer. And gives the older generations hope to see that there are people who will stay here.

N: I want to be that kind of hopeful person. Or be a person who can inspire hope. That’s a good point, I think, in part of the reason that I was motivated to try to be more serious about this. I meet a lot of folks like Samantha Eubanks at the Harvest Table, Kelsey Burke, Heather Jeffreys. I’m not sure where all of them are from, but I gather lots of them are like you, they’re transplants.

S: They are, yeah.

N: They’re all people I look up to and admire…[I think] these people would kill for the opportunity you have here. You have access to property to grow. Shame if I don’t use it, ya know? I started being motivated more in that way and thinking of it that way, like, this is an opportunity that you have. That helped clarify a vision for me and still informs what I’m trying to do. I draw a lot of inspiration from those younger folks who come here and wanna be a part of an agricultural, organic community and I’m happy to try and use some of the opportunities that I have towards that.”

 

Abingdon: Meet the Locals [the Bullens pt.1]

This blog post is entitled “pt.1” in hopes that I’ll get to speak more to this incredible family. It seems to me as though the Bullen Family truly does it all. I’ve never seen anything but resilience and dedication from these folks, and always with a smile on their faces. I was lucky enough to talk to one of the older daughters, Abigail Bullen, and their friend, Regina Dawson, who has begun selling with them this season. They set up shop together Tuesdays and Saturdays at the market, and what a colorful display it is!

To me, the definition of an “artist” encompasses anyone that allows the world they live in to engage them in a multitude of ways and then create from those experiences. Regina, Abigail, and the rest of her family use crafts ranging from greeting cards and art pieces to scarves, jewelry, adult & baby headbands, mug cozies, and photography to give back to the world. I’d say it’s working, and I’m grateful to know them.

I can also personally say that I wear one of Abigail’s cotton headbands almost every single day. One of the best purchases I’ve made this year. Enjoy getting a tiny glimpse into their world!

 


“Sarah: So, you said that most of these shots are taken from your backyard?

Regina: Well the bluebirds are all taken through my kitchen window. It’s the one window in the house that you have to keep clean. And the flowers are taken from my yard. Or if they’re orchids, my friend has an orchid collection and I take from their collection of orchids.

S: It’s the characters in these birds that are standing out so much to me. They’re hilarious.

 

R: Yeah, the pecker was through my dining room window. Birds are the only thing I take pictures of from inside. The rest is outdoors.

S: It’s like they’re yelling at each other.

R: Yeah, they have lots of personality.

S: Do you usually wait for them?

R: Because it’s from the kitchen, I just keep the camera on the countertop and, you know, you’re going to the kitchen to get a drink of water and there’s a bird. I don’t ever say, “oh, I’m going to take pictures now”, but I always have the camera handy.

S: When did you start taking photos?

R: Just, well, I just started selling this season. It’s the first time I’ve ever made cards and sold any, so I’m a beginner in that way. I started taking pictures when a high school teacher assigned a photo essay. It wasn’t a photography class, it was humanities, and she assigned a photo essay. And she liked my pictures. I took them of my nieces. I had two nieces who were preschool age and I took pictures of them hugging and praying, and just all different poses. I titled it “Sisterly Love”, and it was with my Dad’s colored polaroid. And my teacher said it was beautiful, but I’m sure she was referring to the poses and not the polaroid quality…there’s not much you can do with a polaroid. And yes, I still have that polaroid camera.

S: That’s fantastic. Do you have a studio at home or do you just find space?

R: No, I work at our dining room table.

S: These are so great. Do you make these ones as well?

R: No, Abigail makes these.

Abigail: I don’t do these all myself. These are actually a conglomeration of people. My great-grandma and my mother, and her mother, and my uncle Josiah does all the art here, this is my Aunt Amy’s, these are my sister Danielle’s. So, basically it’s a joint family effort in cards.

S: Do you all do it together?

A: No, we do it at our separate houses.

 

S: And how did you get started? What made you interested in starting to make headbands and things?

A: One of the farmers here, he had a girl interning with him and she wanted me…I was bringing pillow case dresses for young girls and selling those…and she wanted me to make headbands for her. So that’s how that started. I based it off one that she brought and they got a lot better over the years.

S: How many years have you been working on these?

A: These I’ve had maybe 4 years now.

S: And you’re only…?

A: 18.

S: 18. Started young, that’s fantastic. I used to just glue old scarves and things, I’d just glue them to shirts because I wanted to create these belts. But it was super glue and hot glue, so that doesn’t stay on when you put it in the dryer. I learned pretty quickly. So, where do you find the materials for these?

 

A: Um, a lot of these come from Jeannine’s Fabric shop just down the road. Some of them, it’s like as I go through, some come from Wal-Mart, some people give me…this was from a friend, her and her mom made her daughter a dress out of this. So she gave me leftovers from it because she knew that I’d use it. But, um, just random.

R: And that’s organic cotton.

A: Yeah, that stuff’s ordered online. I found a good place online that I could get good quality knit, better than you can find around here. Jeannine’s doesn’t have any knit because it’s a quilt shop. But yeah, Organic Cotton Plus, or something like that. I’ve ordered more and waiting for it to come in.

S: Is that what this one is?

A: Yes, that’s organic cotton.

 

S: I wear this thing every day and my brother just came to visit and I had to steal it off his head when he left…What does this idea of community mean to you and how does that impact your life?

A: A big part of the community, for us around here, is the large families. I’m one of 10, and we’re homeschooled on a farm, and so knowing other families…like the Moyers for instance, they have 6 kids, and they farm and homeschool. And having people to ask questions from, like we’re dealing with this now, how would you relate to that? We get together every Wednesday evening and play Frisbee with some friends who are also farm kids and homeschooled, and that’s really great for us. I’ve also really enjoyed getting to know people at the market.

S: It’s very family-oriented, and embracing of that. All walks of life.

A: Oh yeah. What would you say to that, Regina? Your turn!

R: The market, I always shopped here, so I’m at home here somewhat from shopping here often. It’s different to get to know the vendors this way.

 

A: And the customers come back year after year after year. When we first started, my sister and I, we were selling baked goods at my family’s farm table over there. And these people who bought cookies from us still come back and talk to us about it. And that was 6 years ago, 5 years ago. They still remember us and we still know them, and that’s been really awesome to see people come back.

R: I was going to mention about the cards, they are recycled paper also. I order the paper and it’s recyclable. Josiah does his, he does a lot of digital art.

S: You have cards for all ages here.

A: Oh yeah.

R: And Grandma does a lot of the stamp cards. She’s a very amazing person.

S: And who does the artwork over here?

A: My sister Danielle does all the trees, and unicorns here, and Josiah did that one [mixed media].

R: She does that same sort of art on a tri-fold card.

S: Coffee sleeves, I love these! Who made these?

A: Lydia, yeah, she learned to cable-knit. She’s pretty cool.”

Pretty cool, indeed. Thanks for reading, and see you at the next market!

 

Abingdon: Meet the Locals [Wolf Farm]

Growing up I never quite understood why my Mom was so drawn to gardening. She’d be out there in the summer under the hot sun and I’d think she was crazy. “They’re just plants. We don’t need them.” But we did, you see. My love of nature and of the outdoors comes from walks with my parents in the woods behind our house, and from seeing each type of flower throughout the seasons. I would wait all year for the bleeding hearts to bloom, for the mayapples to pop up…and for the juiciest tomatoes and raspberries that I could pluck off and eat after school. It did indeed matter a great deal. And that’s why she loved it. That’s why so many people love it.

 

I immediately felt that passion coming from Becky & Steve Wolf of Wolf Farms, and its’ sister business, Wolf Farm Natural Elements. Becky and Steve have been farming for years, but about 5 years in the Washington County area. They not only grow incredible organic produce, but they work to educate other growers and make it a whole lot easier to start a garden, whether it’s in the grand scale or in your backyard. By finding local sources for fertilizers, seeds, and feeds, they have been able to alleviate some of the pain and expense that often goes along with organic farming. Learning never stops in any field, and that’s certainly true in farming. Pun intended.

Along with the farming products they talk about below, you can find them selling carrots, a variety of potatoes, lavender, basil, onions, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, and more! Also, the body butter they sell? Heavens, it smells good and it keeps your hands feeling soft as a baby’s bottom. Yeah, I got that expression from my mom too.

Enjoy the interview and make sure to visit them either Tuesday or Saturday at the Abingdon Farmer’s Market! What’s more exciting, is that they’ve begun selling their produce at Blue Hills Market on Pecan Street! Go check them out and pick up your veggies for dinner. And if you’ve ever got any gardening questions? Becky and Steve Wolf are the people to see.

“Sarah: So you guys were telling me last week about how you have fertilizer and stuff like that, and that you help other farms with their crops? Can you tell me a little about that?

Steve: Well we started a business here locally that supplies organic feeds, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, all that kind of stuff to the local farmers, because we found that there was a real need for supplies locally that the normal feed stores, and things like that, might have a little bit here and there of different products, but nobody had everything and they might not have what you need at the time you need it. So, we just felt there was a niche there.

Becky: And then the freight charge.

Steve: Yeah, so then you had to go online to buy and then you’re paying all the freight. So, we’ve partnered with Seven Springs out of Floyd, Virginia, Red Bud Farm down by Blountville, Tennessee. We’ve got feeds coming from New Country Organics in Waynesboro, Virginia. A non-GMO feed, it’s not organic but it’s non-GMO, and it’s coming out of Stuarts Draft, Virginia. So those are some of the main suppliers. Then we also use Country Boy Seed [Bristol], which is not an organic supply but they do have raw and natural seeds, and are fairly regional in a lot of those sources and supplies. And they do a lot of cover crops, hay and straw, and things like that.

 

Sarah: And I’m sure you guys have created such a network of farms.

Becky: Oh yeah.

Sarah: I’m sure that now you’ve made connections and friends with so many local farms around here too. You kind of know everyone, I guess.

Steve: Yeah, yeah. Well, we’ve kind of been involved with farmer’s markets here and in Glade Springs for 5 years now. So, yeah, we’ve got a network of a lot of folks and made those connections. And that got us…everybody commiserated the same way with us as far as getting supplies and how expensive it was. So that’s what also helped us make the decision to get into that business. Once we started that, now one of our outreaches is to try to get to the small town garden, master gardener type, and those kind of people. So we were at the Master Gardener Faire..

Sarah: Is that like community gardens?

Steve: Well there’s community gardens. But Master Gardeners is a club that you have to become certified in. It’s more than just a club, you actually have to go through hours and hours of training and volunteer work to show that you know what you’re talking about. And then you become a Master Gardener and it’s a certification you have and can carry. Maybe one day we might go that route.

Becky: But they buy products from us.

Steve: Right, right. They’re big into the organics, so we can supply them as well. So, we were at that Garden Faire earlier this year and that got us a little bit better known in that circle. So, we’re broadening that whole base out.

 

Sarah: What is this whole local community mean to you all, especially being as tight-knit as it is? What does the idea of purchasing locally and keeping it local mean to you?

Steve: Well, I think to me…you’re supporting each other in all your endeavors. You’re keeping the money locally, it’s not going off to some big corporation somewhere. Some of it’s still happening, because you’re handling materials and stuff, but with our produce and farm goods and all these other crafters and their goods and stuff, it’s all local. That money stays here and is re-used. We shop with them, they shop with us. All that kind of stuff back and forth.

Becky: And as far as the food, just knowing where your food comes from and knowing what’s in your food ‘cause they’re getting the stuff from us too. It’s just really important. The education there too, I mean we learn from them, they learn from us. And trusting what they’re telling us.

Sarah: Do you keep learning every day?

Becky & Steve: Oh yeah, oh yeah.

Steve: You don’t stop, it’s constant. And it is a tight-knit community, I really feel. I’ve lived in a lot of different places and they really believe in supporting your local business around here. I mean there are other communities that do that too, but I’ve really felt that this Abingdon and Washington County area really does try and do that. So that’s been nice to see.

Sarah: How did you all get started in the business?

Becky: Well we started with just Wolf Farm, the produce side. Like he was saying, we started this other business, Wolf Farm Natural Elements, just because it was so hard getting the organic product and so that’s how we started in with this. So it’s kind of two businesses in one. But one supports the other. Plus, we just believe in the all-natural, organic. The health side of it, too.

Sarah: It makes me so excited hearing about all this stuff. It makes me want to start my own small garden just for me!

Steve: Well we can help you out!”

 

Check out their Facebook page!

https://www.facebook.com/WolfFarm/?fref=ts

 

Abingdon: Meet the Locals [the Fosters]

Loyalty is a word that comes to mind when I think local. So is tradition and commitment. The simple act of nurturing something until it contributes to a meal and a moment in time is beautiful. And doing it with a sense of humor only makes life more fruitful…see what I did there?

Meet Charlie, Doris and Nancy Foster of Fosters Farm. They’ve been farming for the better part of their lives and have been regular vendors at the Abingdon Market for quite some time. Always greeting me with a smile, Doris is the first one I usually see on Saturday mornings. She’s the social butterfly, and she finally gave in to having her picture taken [shown below]. I wasn’t lying about her smile.

Knowing how many hours of work a day goes into growing the green beans and squash I’ll have for dinner tonight has helped me treat meals more reverently. Those few moments where you eat and drink and pause from your busy life are difficult to do, but they make a huge impact on your mind.

At their table, among other things, you can find green beans, cabbage, squash, assorted greens, zucchini, watermelon, and pumpkins later on in the season. Charlie and I looked at photos taken over the past couple of years, and had a grand old time talking about his years in farming…

“Sarah: How long have you been a farmer?

Charlie: Probably 40 years.

S: How did you get started in it?

C: Well it was just a, I guess it was a way of life. When we growed up, we didn’t have no grocery stores so we had to raise our own stuff…To me now, more than anything, it’s like a hobby. I just love doing it. If I don’t like doing it, at my age, I wouldn’t be out in that hot sun all day.

S: That is true. Is it a family business as well?

C: Well, now it’s just me and my two sisters. The rest of them just, they went off and done their own thing, ya know. ‘Course I’ve worked probably about 40 years. Started this as a hobby, and been doing it ever since. Not ‘cause I have to do it, ya know.

S: Is it relaxing?

C: Well yeah, in a way. But like I said, if you don’t enjoy doing it, you wouldn’t be out there. You couldn’t pay somebody, to take them out there. Now you’ll find a few, most likely, after about 2 days they wouldn’t come back.

S: I worked one summer at a blueberry farm, and I was out there picking every day and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I loved the boss I worked for, but it was, uh, it was very difficult. Got a tan that summer.

 

C: Now see, you take now. 4 or 5 days, I mean that sun will shine down almighty. What I do, I go out at 6 o’clock in the morning and I work ‘till about 12 or 1 o’clock. Then I quit ‘till about 6 o’clock in the evening, go back out. If it wasn’t real hot I’d stay out there some days 8, 9, 10 hours a day.

S: Wow. Is this a silly question? What’s your favorite thing to grow, or what’s your favorite thing to eat, like, the most rewarding?

C: Well, to me now I haven’t got a favorite food or nothing like that, but in the last 4 or 5 years I’ve been raising pumpkins and watermelon to see if I can get the biggest one. So, uh, see right here, this one right here weighed over a hundred pounds.

S: Oh my gosh.

C: That’s one I had last year.

S: That’s incredible. Oh my gosh, that would feed me for a week.

 

C: It took two of us to get it up off the ground because it was so big, not because it was all that heavy. When you got all the way down on the ground and reached your arms around it, you couldn’t hardly get back up. ‘Cause sometimes you’d get down and it’s just hard to bring yourself around it and bring it up. This right here is my sister. Somebody [photographers] come out in the garden about 7 or 8 years ago, out of Roanoke, and she was picking that squash and all that stuff. What they done, they came down to the garden about 10 o’clock in the morning, and they were down out till about 12 o’clock taking all them pictures. They had to be perfect. Then in the evening on Tuesday, they came up here and we were selling on Tuesday. And a cook came in here, and the cook bought some stuff and he took it back to the restaurant, so that goes to show you that it’s picked fresh. Came to the market, cook came and got it and took it to the restaurant and an hour later somebody sitting there eating it. So, it just goes to show you how fresh it is.

 

One time I grown some tomatoes, but they weren’t the type that they put in grocery stores…they got a long life. You know, you put them in the grocery store and they’ll stay in there for a month before they go bad. And this guy came in one day and he says, he said, “These ain’t local tomatoes.” And I asked him, I said, “What’s a local tomato?”. And he said, “Grown in this area.” And I said, “I grown them in this area.” So, it had to be local, ya know. But it was the type of tomato, that, you know, he figured it had to be grown somewhere else because…

S: It had a longer life?

C: Yeah. And like I said, I was about 7 or 8 years old and Daddy made me get out in that garden…So, I guess I’ve been doing it ever since. Like I said, I just enjoy doing it. I’m getting close to 80 now…gonna have to start hiding up on that porch in my rocking chair.

S: Not yet! There’s something about the community and how tight-knit the local community is, especially shopping local and supporting local businesses and things like that. So, what does the idea of local mean to you?

C: What makes me feel really good about it is to have people come in here and they see us and they really appreciate it that you’re doing that stuff, so they can get it fresh and that makes me feel good. We have the same customers for 25 years and regardless, they come to me first, and if there’s something I don’t have then they’ll go to someone else. I guess it was in the blood.”

 

Go say hello to Charlie and his sisters next time you’re at the market! Thanks for reading, y’all.

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