"I know it sounds corny, but I like being connected to the earth and everything that it's capable of doing and having it be sustainable," says Emily. She lives on a 20-acre farm south of Chapel Hill in the town of Moncure in Chatham County, about a 25-minute drive from downtown. This is Emily's first foray into farming. About two years ago, she and her then fiancé bought the property with plans to transform it into a working certified organic farm complete with rows of vegetables, an apple orchard and farm animals.
"He's more an animal person. I like to see something grow from seed. It's representative of the life cycle. It's pretty cool," she says, then adds modestly. "We are still very much beginners. We are trying to do the best that we can."
So far they're growing okra, asparagus, tomatoes, blackberries, pears, squash and grapes, and will expand to include artichokes and an apple orchard. "We really want to diversify ourselves from really successful farmers doing annuals, so we'd like to do perennials."
In addition, they keep bees and care for about a dozen sheep, a few cows, and a pair of father-son donkeys, Ernesto and José. Not too long ago they raised chickens, but the hens began mysteriously disappearing.
"I've seen foxes out here. Something's out at night. When when it's almost dusk, we hear the coyotes way out in the woods," she says. "I miss fresh eggs. We should not be paying for eggs."
The couple sells their lambs' wool and honey locally and hopes to market an abundance of produce as crops continue to flourish. She also offers farm tours to families or home schoolers illustrating in engaging detail the process of growing crops and managing an animal farm. Her "lessons" so absorbing, even a fidgety four year old is incognizant of a pacing donkey near the barn.
"I like making it a better place. I like living off the land in a better way instead of causing harm," she says, then sighs. "It feels good ... it feels right."
(photographs taken on Emily's farm in Moncure, NC. Those interested in contacting Emily can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)