Meet the farmers!
I hope everyone is doing well on this rainy Monday here in Wilmington, NC! I’m so excited to talk about the importance of meeting and getting to know your farmers. I’m so glad I’m finally sharing this story with all of you today of some farmers we have been friends with for the last couple of years. Meet the farmers at Greensky Farms: We met Jordyn through Feast Down East as a volunteer, but once the Viking and I got to know Jordyn and the love of her life Brendon (Farmers – Greensky) we soon knew we would be fast farmer friends. Then later through their friendship we got to know Marie Davis (Farmer – Centripetal Farms) and what I can tell you is that this group is a recipe for successful collaboration. All of these farmers are passionate about the important work they are doing and maybe…just maybe our farmers just may save the world for all of us.
An afternoon on the farm…
Spending an afternoon out on the farm with all of them was just what the doctor ordered for my husband and I during this time of Covid-19. We got to meet their pigs, goats, chickens, and walk through their gardens and mushroom farm. It was inspirational and even though it was a sticky, hot and humid day I went home after our tour with a happy heart. It feels good to see the next generation of homesteaders whether it be urban, suburban or big spread farmers that have a vision for the future and they want to make the world a better place. Spending a day out on their farm will make you realize not only can you be better but you want to be part of making this earth a better place. Hence the importance of connecting with and supporting your local farmers. Do you know where your food comes from? Have you chatted with your farmer/s lately?
A love story began..
Get to know your farmers of southeastern North Carolina…
Brendon and Jordyn met and grew quite smitten with one another over their mutual love of nature, food and the ethical and creative production methods in 2016. In 2017, they began Greensky Farms and farmed a small 1-acre plot before finding and purchasing their dream land and home in late 2019.
Let’s chat with the farmers!
Jordyn Appel, the female and plant half to Greensky Farms, is Michigan grown and had an early passion for social and environmental justice through community stewardship, action and advocacy. Beginning in high school, she spent seven years beekeeping, working on and operating a wide variety of small to large-size sustainable and organic farms, and community gardens. She also spent some years designing, building and facilitating educational and operational farm-based programs and businesses.
In 2015, she transplanted to Wilmington as a Food-Coops service member, spending two years engaging students, school communities + local partners in school garden and nutrition education before transitioning into her current role as the Local Motive Program Director. Jordyn now addresses the issue of a lack of access to fresh, local and healthy foods through the Local Motive Farmers Market. Jordyn also co-owns and operates Centripetal Farms with Marie Davis, an education and consulting organization focused on cultivating a stronger knowledge of farming, environment and sustainability in vulnerable communities.
Brendon Hughes, the male and poultry half of Greensky Farms, has always been a man of the land. Spending a majority of his childhood outside in the woods and on the water, he developed a strong appreciation and value system for the land. After moving to North Carolina, he spent time living in Raleigh, Wilmington and Boone, cooking at a variety of restaurants. He also spent time doing lots of fishing before moving back to Raleigh to attend the Chef’s Academy, working at Mandolin and Second Empire. Upon graduating from culinary school, he moved back to Wilmington and worked as the Executive Chef at Giorgio’s before transitioning to working at Seaview Crab Company, holding a variety of leadership roles in market management and wholesale distribution.
He is now the CSA & Assistant Food Hub Manager at Feast Down East, working with local farmers in creating sustainable and creative avenues in getting their product into consumer’s hands. This deep relationship in preparing, cooking and creating meals for others, while helping them to do so at home as well, inspired him to want to drive this deeper in cultivating food to ensure his kitchen creatives meet the high standards and ethics he harbors.
What inspired ya’ll to begin homesteading?
J: I have always been passionate about the environment and social justice, with my background rooted in activism, advocacy, outreach and education. I began beekeeping in highschool, dabbled with planting in my first year of college, and had some serious struggles trying to figure out how to connect everything. Then in 2012, I went to New Zealand, lived on an intentional, organic farming community called Wilderland, and everything clicked for me. I knew I wanted this kind of life, for myself, but for others and to create pathways for humans to transition towards this more holistic way of life.
B: After spending years in the professional kitchen world and working for several farm to table restaurants. I realized I wanted to develop my passion for cooking by becoming hands-on from beginning to end in the culinary world. After meeting Jordyn I became more and more aware of the food insecurities facing our communities across America.
What is your favorite crop to grow?
J: Peppers, mushrooms, flowers. My spirit vegetable is a cayenne pepper, sweet with some heat!
B: I prefer my chickens, but as far as crops go I would say peppers.
How do you feel as a producer that farmers/producers positively impact the community?
J: Farmers bring so much light to our communities. Without these superheroes, we wouldn’t be able to nourish our bodies and minds with the nutrients, vitamins and goodness that makes us kind, successful and strong individuals and community members.
B: Between our work with Feast Down East and our own sales we ensure that both restaurants, retail and customers from at-risk communities have access to fresh, organic locally sourced produce.
We are also a farm that practices regenerative agriculture, so we are helping create a better environment for our future generations.
What is your why?
J: To regenerate the land, to restore the generations of systemic stealing of land and food culture, to educate on growing for the soul and health of our bodies and Mother Earth. Also, to provide people with a consistent, local, affordable access point to real food. Food is an inaugural part to life – we can apply the system towards growing, accessing and eating it to quite literally any component of living – by growing food and having dialogue over it, we are hoping to empowering others to begin their own growing adventures.
B: To save the world. The freedom as a farmer is also pretty sweet.
How are you gardening or farming on your land?
We practice regenerative agriculture. Working with nature, not against it; feeding the soil to feed the plant to feed the soul.
Any musings or connections you have made?
We are super fortunate to have worked for so many amazing local businesses and nonprofits that value and support the local food system. We have met some incredible folks, like y’all, and other farmers who have practices akin to ours. Being able to have these types of relationships has been instrumental for us.
We also did a Farm School through the Small Business Center at Cape Fear Community College and that was incredible for us in building out financial and business plans, and are now a part of the Feast Down East Emerging Farmers Program which has a plethora of resources and educational opportunities.
What are your next steps/future plans with your homestead?
Since we just purchased our property and home in November, we have tons to expand on. Our schemes are very extensive. Our first phase though has had us cultivating test plots, expanding mushroom, chicken and bee production, and building in our infrastructure. We are converting a room in our barn into a walk-in cooler, establishing a wash and pack station, constructing a propagation house, are on the immediate list. With anticipation in clearing a few more acres, expanding the pig and goat pens, building chicken tractors to pasture raise our meat birds, creating our mobile aqua-tote system to water crops, by the end of 2020.
Within the next five years we hope to have four acres for fruit, vegetable, flower and herb production, roughly two acres devoted to mushroom production with a multitude of growing methods, two apiaries, pheasants, ducks and roughly 500 chickens for both egg laying and meat birds in moving tractors.
Where are ya’ll located? How can people find you?
We are located in Yamacraw, an unincorporated community, with the official town being Atkinson, North Carolina. We began farming together on a 1-acre plot right outside Wilmington, NC. Jordyn began farming in 2012 and has extensive experience in working with sustainable and certified organic farms, diversified growing methods and market operations
Stay tuned for our next local farmer feature! We have so many great farmers in the Cape Fear Region to feature! Our next feature will be of a local Wilmington suburban homesteader and entrepreneur. I hope you enjoyed reading about the farmers at Greensky Farms as much as I have enjoyed featuring them on our blog. I hope this post inspires you to get to know your farmer!
Be well and stay safe everyone!