Monday, June 27, 2011

This Place Is My Home

FRIENDS! What a weekend we had. If yours was anywhere near as glorious and inspirational as mine, then you must be feeling pretty fine on this Monday afternoon.

On Saturday, we partook in the annual Family Farm Tour. Multiple farms in several counties across western North Carolina opened wide their barn doors to the general public. Along with my good buddy (and editor extraordinaire) Nicole (who joined us on Saturday), we viewed 5 farms over two days.

Our first stop was the venerable Hickory Nut Gap farm, well-known for their sustainable meat practices. While there, we saw their forthcoming patch of U-Pick blueberries and thornless blackberries, listened to the delighted squeals and watched the piggly antics of their forest swine, picniced creek-side under the dappled shade of several grand trees, picked up some goods from the farm store, and took in the epic views.

We moved on next to Flying Cloud Farm, where Annie Perkinson gave us a field tour of her family's CSA and market garden. Growing everything from sunflower and celosia to kale and celeriac, Flying Cloud is a thing of beauty. Annie's daughter and her friend had even pitched a lemonade stand with the enticing call of "you know you want some" written on it.

Our final stop on Saturday was Looking Glass Creamery. We caught a quick glimpse of the cheese production room, chatted with cheese-maker and owner Jennifer Perkins, purchased some gingered chevre, and called it a day.

On Sunday, we headed north to Madison County where we hit up Spinning Spider Creamery, known for their stellar goat cheeses and East Fork Farm, from where we purchase our ground lamb. Spinning Spider is a serious operation, with a high-yield production room and many, many lovely goats. I was most impressed with their Stackhouse cheese, which contains Applewood ash in it made on site with ash from their own apple trees. I told Hubs that we've got to do the same with our own trees. Homemade applewood ash. Can you imagine???

East Fork showcased some of the most adorable animals I've ever seen. The baby ducks were over the top in the adorable department The farm also raises rabbits, chickens (egg and meat), and lamb, which they rotate every 6 weeks across the 10 pastures on their 40 acre parcel of mountainside. Our tour was presented by the crackerjack Autumn ("like the season"), the farmer's daughter, who looked to be around 12 or 13 years old. Animal husbandry phraseology and figures rolled off her tongue like a true farmers child.

I also had the immense good fortune of running into the lovely Jen Altman and her family at Hickory Nut Gap. I knew she'd moved to Asheville and I've been looking forward to bidding her an official "howdy 'do." Her three daughters are adorable. I wish I'd thought to take a picture of the three of them in their Hunter wellies, each a different color (including one-not sure which girl-sporting a pair that were silver!!!).

It was an amazing weekend, filled with glorious vistas, babbling brooks, chirping chicks, cheeping ducks, puckery pickles, fragrant ros├ęs, giggling babies, and one happy mama. It's really quite an experience to physically meet and interact with the individuals growing the food you consume and seeing the spaces on which they farm. It humbles me to see them labor. It floods me with gratitude to live in an area of such beauty and bounty. It calms my frazzled nerves (I tell ya, 8 month-old crawling babies are a LOT of work, especially when you're in the final 5 week stretch of completing a book at home with them underfoot!) and makes me feel grounded, rooted, tethered to this exquisite place in which I've found a mate and started a family. This place is my home, and I do so love it dearly.

*To see LOADS more photos from our tour, go here, here, and here.


jen said...

that does sound lovely. we will be official residents of Asheville in 3 weeks (bought a house downtown last month and are just tying up loose ends before moving). i will definitely be participating in the next farm tour!

Kristin Marsh said...

We also enjoyed this tour a great deal. Spinning Spider & East Fork were fun, but we especially loved Hominy Valley Farm--such sweet people & a really lovely place. We buy a good deal of our food from them each week at the City Market.

amanda said...

yes, we live in a lovely area, indeed~

I've never gone out on the farm tour, but I think I'll need to remedy that next year!

{ T G L } said...

That does sound like a great weekend! So nice to be in touch with the food producers (and the food!) around you. The photos were adorable, by the way!

Good luck with the book and the baby - sounds like a distraction on top of another distraction ;)

This Good Life

melody said...

so dreamy....maybe one day we will live there. love the pictures!!!

Indio said...

The photos were great, especially the pile of sleeping goats and the blessing basket full of Huxley. I'm googling around to see if there are any farm tours near my neighborhood. I'm sure I could learn a few tips from the professionals.

another feather said...

What an awesome tour! Hickory Nut Gap's grass fed beef, is out favorite beef to eat. And I could eat spinning spider creamery's cheeses all day. I wish I would have know about this tour. so wonderful, perhaps next time..

Make Do and Mend said...

I don't live in NC, but I clicked on all the links you provided. All I can say is, wow! My heart yearns for the way of life the fine folks you featured have. How rewarding. I know it must be an incredibly hard way to make a living at times, but how much they must get back by the knowledge that they produce wonderful things of value - with their own hands and hearts. Simply beautiful!

Amber said...

The names of these farms are so unreal! Hickory Nut Gap, Flying Cloud Farm, Looking Glass Creamery and Spinning Spider... Seriously sound like they are from some idyllic fiction novel. Anyway, what a cool way to connect with producers right in your area...wondering if there is something like this in my area.