The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Local News

September 26, 2012

Tour explains workings of family farms

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 — The weekend of Sept. 15-16 began with sunny blue skies for the Charlotte Area Know Your Farms Tour.  

Windy Hill Farm in New London was one of Stanly County’s featured stops.

Owners  Charles and Dana Burrage produce beef, chicken, pork, lamb, duck and eggs on 27 acres.

“We have six goats which we raise to sell the ‘kids’. We milk them daily, but can not sell the ‘raw’ milk according to North Carolina State law,” said Dana Burrage.  

“Goats are great to have around. You do have to watch when they get out. They just love our children’s trampoline.”

The Burrages raise meat- producing and egg-laying chickens.

“Our egg layers move about the open pasture eating grass, bugs and seeds. The meat-producing chickens put weight on and, therefore, are kept in pens. We move them daily to feed on fresh grasses and bugs.  If we left them out in the open field, they would be vulnerable to predators,” said Charles.

Five years ago, the Burrages purchased the farm. It began as an endeavor to provide healthy food for their growing family.  They quickly discovered that others wanted to purchase their meat and eggs produced without hormones and other additives.  Traveling to local farmer’s markets, they sold their meat and eggs to those seeking an organic alternative. Charles quit his job as a truck driver to work the growing farm full time nearly three years ago. Dana joined him more than a year ago.

“I’d much rather be doing this. It brings income to pay our bills and it’s a lot more fun,” said Charles.  

With more than 500 chickens, nearly 70 pigs, 35 sheep, 19 cows, turkeys and ducks, the farm fills the acreage. Each week the Burrages sell their meat and eggs at their farm on Thursday from 5-7 p.m. and at local farmer’s markets. The address is 20735 Bear Creek Church Road, New London. Their website address is WindyHillFarmNC.com.

Fair Meadow Bakes in Mt. Pleasant was also on the tour, where Pat Gaddis bakes breads, pizza, scones and cookies for the public. Located at 4175 Cauble Road, Gaddis has a wood fired brick oven where she bakes her goodies outside throughout the year. She began making pizza every Friday night for her family. The event grew to include her children’s friends and neighboring families.

In 2008, Gaddis began searching plans for a brick oven. It took six months to gather the materials to assemble the oven. In April 2009, she baked her first pizza.  

“This oven is a fully functional convection oven which loves moisture. I had to adjust my ingredients. I only use natural ingredients such as organic flour, sea salt, natural leaven and fresh herbs. My 86-year-old mother will only eat my pizza,” said Gaddis.

Gaddis bakes for the public and hosts private events at her home. She can be reached at (704) 436-2962 or on the Internet at fairmeadowbakes.blogspot.com.

Coldwater Creek Farm in Gold Hill was also on the tour. Brad Hinckley and Eric Williamson own the farm that sits on property used for agricultural production for more than 100 years. They produce vegetables and dairy products using organic sustainable methods. Coldwater Creek Farm is the largest producer of garlic in the area.

They have two greenhouses where they start small plants from seed. Williamson provided a guided tour of the farm. One field had not been planted in more than 30 years. Due to weed pressure, this field will only produce a minimal harvest of sweet potatoes this year.

“Black-eyed peas are ideal to plant virgin ground such as this, as they prepare the soil for future crops. They add nitrogen back to the soil,” said Williamson.   

Two fields were planted in peppers.

“We planted tomatoes and peppers. Peppers keep producing until frost and are pest resilient. There is a demand for peppers in the market,” said Williamson.

“We can’t get squash to grow here. The squash vine borer or stink bug gets them. Because we are or-ganic growers, we don’t use pesticides as others do, we must use natural barriers for our crops.”  

Other fields were planted with okra, sweet potatoes, black-eyed peas, broccoli, radishes, carrots and lettuce.

“We like to plant this Wildfire mix of lettuce. It is a come again type, which means you can cut it and new leaves will form which can be cut again,” said Williamson.  

The farm uses a fish emulsion fertilizer and drip line irrigation to encourage growth. Lavender and bronze fennel are grown as a pest barrier for the fields.  Beehives are also located nearby to encourage pollination of crops and also produce local honey.

Coldwater Creek Farms sells to areas such as Concord and Davidson. Its website is coldwatercreekfarms.com and Williamson can be reached at (704) 796-7795.

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