Happy Spring, dear friends! I cannot express to you all just how excited I am to share those words with you – “happy Spring!” I believe some sentiments cannot be contained by the written word, nor should they. The feeling of seeing red buds illuminated by golden sun rays under blue sky, as a cool breeze blows on warmed skin – all I can do in the midst of this goodness is smile and give thanks. Gratitude, that seems word enough for this.
I’m sure many of you can relate to the joy of having past what was hopefully the last frost on Saturday night, given the crazy snow, ice, freezing rain, and wintery mixes we’ve been gifted this winter.
Now, the birds are all out singing their songs, tomatoes and peppers are being potted up and some already out to field to join early greens and roots. Now, the dogwood is finally in bloom, and farmers are on their toes keeping up with planting, seeding, weeding, and the repetition of it all until the moment we’ve been waiting for – the harvest.
Though we still have a few weeks before the first harvest is ready here on the farm, we have already begun to reap the reward of thoughtful planning, conscious outreach, and inspired visioning over the long winter.
This winter, Heartstrong Farm’s Core Group of voluntary advisory members came together to envision the future and growth of our farm as a CSA farm. We met over potluck suppers, and lent skills of marketing, business planning, creative problem solving, farm management, and inspired thoughts, words, and deeds, which has led to our CSA membership doubling from last year for the 2018 season! We are blessed and excited to be growing for 25 households (so far!) this season, with exciting off-farm pick up locations at Fair Game Beverage Co. in Pittsboro and Four Saints Brewing Co. in Asheboro. We also look forward to attending the Chatham Mills Farmers Market again this year with bright and colorful blooms beginning next month!
In addition to growing our farm family, we are so incredibly thankful to be a grant recipient from this year’s Agricultural Reinvestment Fund from the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI)!
RAFI awarded Heartstrong Farm a grant that will allow us to improve our infrastructural systems on the farm, specifically updating and outfitting our greenhouse and pack area for greater efficiency and increased production to support our growing CSA program, in addition to building tables and shelves to turn an 1800s cabin into a farmstand here on the historic Marley House property along Highway 64.
Last and certainly not least, the RAFI grant in conjunction with grant support from the NC Arts Council and Asheboro’s Randolph Arts Guild has allowed a creative project to come to fruition that I’ve been chomping at the bit to share for some time – and now finally can!
As a CSA farm, and a farmer who’s work and mission is driven by community, I will never tire of learning about my community nor reinforcing the importance of community. As such, I believe in an expansive view of community supported agriculture, one that includes communion with the natural landscape, our neighbors, and other collectives cultivating beauty and goodness in one’s locale.
In Randolph County, my locale, one such community is that of the arts. As a newbie to the area, most every place I explored and visited was tied to the artist community here in some way. Seagrove’s world class pottery can be found on many store shelves, beautiful fiber studios are sprinkled across alpaca and sheep farms, the Randolph Arts Guild offers an impressive array of courses and community resources to meet most any creative whim, and locally crafted beverages are poured into gorgeous hand-thrown forms at Four Saints Brewing Co. in the county seat where local officials commune with artists, doctors with farmers, teachers with business owners, chefs with students, and furry paws with smiling children. It was here that I sat down at a picnic table for my weekly CSA drop off where I met a celebrated regional North Carolina artist, Les Caison III, as he was creating art pieces for his Art Wall exhibition, “Helping Hands Give You Wings”, at the brewery. At that table we connected over our passions – his for community art, and mine for community agriculture.
So, we had the thought – how beautiful if we could intersect the two? The arts supporting agriculture, and agriculture supporting the arts.
Well, beauty grows where goodness is planted – and we sure are cultivating a lot of both around here! Over the course of this growing season, Les III will be creating one of a kind illustrations of Heartstrong Farm using black walnut ink handmade right here in North Carolina. Our aim is to share our story: a new North Carolina farm on a historic North Carolina farmland property depicted by a North Carolina born-and-raised-and-educated artist in celebration of agriculture and the arts in North Carolina. All of this, underscoring the deep and beautiful interconnections of community and the possibilities of shared support and growth.
How’s that for local goodness?
I think it’s mighty it fine, and am so looking forward to sharing in all that lays ahead with you!