What does your family primarily grow and sell?
Blueberries and eggs, mostly. We have a huge garden every year. In the past we had a greenhouse that we used to grow lettuce, we wanted to invest in more of a cash crop. It was okay, but just like with any farming you either have to work 25 hours a day or expand. We weren’t interested in five or six greenhouses, those kind of operations make you more of an administrator.
What sparked your interest in farming?
(Carol) My aunt lived on a dairy farm near Chapel Hill and that was the first taste I had of living on a farm. She would take my brother and I on walks out in the woods and I thought it was fascinating. We started farming in our twenties, during the back to the earth movement. We hadn’t intended to buy a working farm, we just wanted to grow some of our own food and have a little more land than we could in town. This place was a hobby farm when we bought it and we just moved in and started with what was here.
Was it difficult to find a community here as first generation farmers?
We were fortunate because the house we bought was owned by Garrett Anglin and his wife. [The Anglin family] just kind of adopted us. Everyone shared equipment so when we inherited the tractor we cut our hay and then everyone else’s. I know of a few families who weren’t as easily accepted so I feel very grateful. They have even offered us a plot in their family cemetery. I didn’t realize what a high regard that is until recently.
Has your gender ever been an issue with regards to farm work?
(Carol) When we first got here everyone – the Anglins and our family – would help pick up the hay. There was a division of labor and the men did all the work in the hay field and the women cooked the food. Well, we didn’t know about this. My husband’s sister and I would go work in the hay field and then scurry back and try and get the food together! It was a couple of years that that happened before I realized the rest of the women were thinking ‘what are they doing’, we just weren’t following the rules. We would go over to visit [the Anglins] and just see so much food; we would only have enough to feed everyone. It didn’t take too long to figure out what were doing wrong but we never gave up working in the fields, even after we realized that.
What are the long-term plans for the farm? Does Laura plan to eventually take over?
(Laura) I definitely do, I’ve spent a while narrowing down where I want to be and what I want to do. This property is the most special place to me, and I know and care about the land and ecosystems. My brother and I will eventually own this property but as a way to sort of be close by and still be involved in the operations here I would love to buy the property next door. The only problem with that at the moment is that I don’t have a steady income to make that happen. I don’t plan on becoming a full time farmer, but I want to always be near here.
(Carol) That’s the greatest part about this area, generations really compliment each other. No one feels the need to go off somewhere new and start all over.
(Laura) Yeah I think one of the reasons I feel so confident in my choice to stay close by is the fact that I never felt obligated to stay.
BRWIA PROFILE PROJECT
Each month we do our best to profile a Woman in Agriculture in our region. These women are diverse - they have come from a variety of backgrounds and include farmers, homesteaders, and activists. They exemplify the multitude of ways women are working to connect with and change our food system.
Female Farmer Profile Project
The BRWIA Profiles evolved out of the Female Farmer Profiles which can be found archived HERE.