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Farm Tour with Jamie Ager

In addition to all of the awesome fall festivities happening at the farm, owner Jamie Ager is offering a complimentary farm tour included in your admission price on September 22nd. The tour will begin promptly at 1pm, so don’t be late. Jamie will lead the tour group around the farm and pastures providing an in-depth discussion on sustainable farming practices, how farmers can successfully use the land and animals in a harmonious way to provide better, healthier products for consumers, and much more!

The free farm tour is only offered once per season, so don’t miss out.

March Happenings

Now Accepting New CSA Members!

One share per month for 6 months: 100% grassfed beef, pasture raised pork, and pasture raised chicken, discounted by 10%.

Special perks include:

  • 10% off additional meat & eggs in the Farm Store
  • Free admission tickets to the farm
  • Fun new recipes emailed out each month.

Learn More & Sign up.



Easter Hams Available for Reservation!

  • Pasture raised and delicious!
  • $12.99/lb.
  • Pickup from the Farm Store
  • House-made glazes available.

Reserve yours.



Early Registration has Begun for our 8k/15k Race

Hickory Nut Gap Farm & Drovers Road are teaming up for a beautiful race in our scenic foothills of Fairview’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

Register today.



March 16 Spring Equinox Stargazing Party

Join us for the last stargazing event of winter as we get ready to welcome the stars of spring. During this time of equal night and equal day we’ll discuss some of the seasonal changes happening at this time in the sky as well as the myths of some of the spring constellations and anything else astronomical!

RSVP on FB



March 24th Farm Tour

Coming up on March 24th is our Spring Open House! Join us at 2pm for a free farm tour. See the beauty of spring on the farm, and learn about how a real working farm operates. All ages and levels of education are welcome. We encourage you to come out if you have any questions about agriculture!

RSVP on FB



April 21st Fairy Party: Springtime Celebration

Join us for a magical fairy party! Boys and girls of all ages are welcome, with special fairy activities such as crafting fairy crowns and more.

RSVP on FB



Free T-Shirt with $100 Purchase!

Now through the end of March in the Farm Store.







Fall in Love with October at the Farm

October Events

Find out about our Spooky Corn Maze, Halloween Dance Party, Sausage Festival, and other awesome events at the farm! We are open for Fall Festivities 7 days a week, and the Farm Store is also open everyday for meat purchases. Also, if you’re curious about our October – March CSA program, read on!


Trumpet and New Orleans Jazz

Swing Dancing with The Roaring Lions

Join us this Friday for an amazing evening of swing dancing, New Orleans Jazz music, and delicious food! This quarter will take you from hot jazz swing dancing while strolling on the streets of New Orleans, to a fiery bayou boogaloo then old time waltzing and back again! The Lions are made up of Asheville’s finest traditional jazz musicians, drawing members from bands such as The Squirrel Nut Zippers, Empire Strikes Brass, The Krektones, and The Smoking Hots. Dancers Sparrow & Keith will be leading a swing dance lesson. Read more and RSVP on Facebook. October 6th 6-9pm.


Kids and Adults in Costume in front of Corn Maze

Spooky Maze and Costume Party for Kids!

We’re doing another Spooky Maze for Kids, with a costume parade for kiddos! Let’s celebrate how cute, scary, spooky and fun our little ones can be. Learn more and RSVP on Facebook. October 21 7-9pm.


Pumpkins and Spooky Sky

Haunted Corn Maze & Dance Party

This one is for big kids and grown-ups! Of course you can still bring the littles. The haunted corn maze will be open from 7-9pm, and from 8-11pm DJ Disc-Oh! will be dropping some spooky thriller jams! Don’t miss this one if you’ve got a great costume, because we’re having a costume contest for adults (with sweet prizes). Learn more and RSVP. October 21st 7-11pm.


Sausages

First Annual Sausage Festival

Yes, you read correctly! We’re having a festival to celebrate all things sausage! We will be pairing our tasty links with various local beers and tasty accoutrements. Yum. More details to come! Learn more and RSVP. November 5th 11-4pm.


Grassfed beef, pasture raised pork, pasture raised chicken

CSA Sign-Up Extended!

We have extended the sign-up period for our October – March CSA! It’s not too late to get that lovely 10% discount for 6 months of delicious pasture raised meat. Small or large shares are available for pickup at the Farm Store once per month.

Sign up for our Meat CSA!


This week, we have frozen short ribs, tri tip, and chuck roast all on sale for $2 off. Come see us at the Farm Store!

Thanks for reading! Please Contact Us if you have any questions.

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Direction

Repetition.

In farming we learn by repeating a process. Over and over and over again. We pay attention, we try to improve, we do the best we can with the time we have but the reality is that we never really reach perfection. There is always a more productive way to prune the berries, an easier way to move the pigs, a cleaner method of bedding the chicks…

We are constantly learning and trying to change based on experience and observation. We are constantly trying to become better farmers. And that process doesn’t end. That is an exciting part of farm work for me.

There’s always more to know. From visions of future building projects, all the way down to the biology of fungi in the orchard, I think I have learned something new every day that I’ve been working here at Hickory Nut Gap. My last day of work is Friday. My fiance and I are moving back to Chapel Hill where she will begin grad school and I will find a job doing…something. Now that my stint on the farm is almost over, I feel it is a good time to look back to the beginning.

I began writing this blog with a post on direction. I’ve thought on that theme quite a bit during my time here and I can’t say that I’ve come to any definitive answers on the topic. I have begun to realize that life doesn’t run in a straight line. It’s more like— a pig in an unfenced pasture. He can’t always see what’s beyond the next hill, but he will move from one good and interesting thing to the next and be perfectly content with ambling slowly along, rooting at whatever comes his way.

So maybe life has a little more direction and focused action than that. But it’s the contentedness that I think is admirable. Hickory Nut Gap is moving purposefully into the future, but, as a farm, there will always be new projects that crop up, unforeseen and unasked for. Those are usually the most fun, though. Or at least they are the projects where we learn the most.

I think it works the same way on an individual level, for me, anyways. I know certain things about the future and other things I am still figuring out. I’ve learned to accept that and to have a little patience during the trial and error period. Life is a series of trials and errors (mostly errors it seems at times), but that is how we move forward. I know that farming or gardening or working the land will always be part of what I do. I know that I want to be a good steward of the earth, I want to eat good food, I want to be a part of community. The details—those are up in the air.

Best,

Sweetbread

A People Farm

My Grandmother, Elspeth Clarke, went to school at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. She relished bringing her friends back to the North Carolina Mountains to get a glimpse of rural southern life. Many of her friends had grown up in privileged homes in the North and were elated to spend a week or two traipsing through the gardens at Hickory Nut Gap and going on long hikes and horseback rides through the mountains. The farm, since the time of my great grandparents, has been host to lots of young folks who want to experience something different from academia and business. Today that tradition continues to exist. Hundreds of young men and women have worked here through the years hailing from all over the world. I would be hard pressed to try and come up with the nationalities that have been represented here through the years. The truth is, Hickory Nut Gap has always had a strong focus on education and personal development, as well as agricultural production.

Sometime in the early 1940’s, My Grandmother sent her friend, Paula Gifford, to the farm for a short vacation. Paula wanted to get away from her home in New Haven for a time and had heard about the McClure’s beautiful spot in North Carolina. The young lady took a bus from New Haven to Asheville and then got a ride with a local out to Fairview. She was dropped off near Smith Farms at the home of Loise and Charles Arrrowood. She used their telephone to call on the McClures who quickly sent someone to escort her the rest of the way. While she waited, Paula talked with the Arrowoods about her trip, her home in New Haven, and about Hickory Nut Gap. She asked the couple what kind of farm Hickory Nut Gap actually was (because even then there were too many little projects involved to get a sense of the whole). Loise Arrowood thought for several moments and then exclaimed enthusiastically “It’s a people farm!”

Introduction to the Crew

In order to understand the workings of Hickory Nut Gap Farm it is, first and foremost, important to meet the crew:

Jamie and Amy are the founders and co-owners of the farm. They have been making this whole thing work since 2000, when they picked up what was then a confusion of endeavors, and began to solidify and realize a new vision for the farm. They have three boys, Cyrus, Nolin, and Levi, and an unbelievable amount of energy and enthusiasm. Any task they have to do for the farm, I’ve seen them master with a wriggling infant in one arm. Amy deals with marketing, company finances, insurance, bookkeeping, and some of the more technical needs of the business. Jamie is a visionary and a mover. He’s always getting fired up for the next project, the next idea, and he has the persistence and drive to follow through (most of the time).

Often, Jamie and Amy are occupied dealing with the business side of things, so Walker Sides is the Farm Manager (that’s a new title for him woot woot!). Walker is an ingenious fellow with oodles of common sense and a clear-headed nature. He’s a good guy to work for not only because he knows so much about the farm, but also because he is willing to jump in and get his hands dirty no matter what the task may be.  He’s got a wry sense of humor and loves to find fun in his work.

My favorite story about Walker is that once, when a salesman called him to try and sell a home security system, Walker told the guy he already had one. The salesman asked what company was the provider and Walker answered, “Marlin”.

“Marlin?”, asked the salesman, “I’ve never heard of them before”.

“Yeah”, Walker replied, “that’s the company that made my shotgun, that’s the only home security I need”, and promptly hung up.

Ann Araps is the Retail Manager and does most of the work pertaining to the Farmstore. She is very small, very blonde, very energetic, and undoubtedly one of the most capable people I’ve ever met. Our customers love Ann. Quite literally. I think there are a number of regulars who come all the way out to Fairview just to see her, forget about buying meat. When I’m working in the store and someone calls, they almost invariably ask for Ann. If I tell them she’s taking lunch and that I can take a message for her, they usually just say, “No thanks, I’ll call back later”.  Somehow she makes customers feel they’re getting a special deal that only she can provide for them. I’m not sure how she does it. Her undaunted positivity is infectious and makes people feel good about themselves and their choices.

Jake Buchanon (pr. ‘Buck-an-an’ not ‘Byookanon’) is the intern this year from Sylva, NC. He graduated from Western Carolina last May and is in basically the same situation as me; farming because he needed to spend his days outside after four years of musty libraries and mustier history books. Jake’s a good ol’ boy, a true Western Carolinian who loves bear hunting, drinking Bud Heavy, and playing baseball. He just stopped smoking cigarettes, but habits like that die hard, so he’s taken to popping dum dums whenever he gets the craving for nicotine. It’s working for him so far but it is a little comical to see him walk off to strike the distant-eyed smoker’s pose and then whip out a sucker instead of a pack of smokes.

Jake loves to talk. He loves to talk about politics, religion, tradition, family, literature, you name it. He really loves to talk about history and if you get him started on the Civil War, you’re in for a longer conversation than you may have bargained for. His gregariousness is a great quality when it comes to the more repetitive tasks on the farm like weeding berries or mulching apple trees. In fact, we have designated a certain term for the odd conversation topics that crop up because of those mind-numbing activities: ‘orchard talk’. Jake is a phenomenal orchard talker and I feel like I’ve gotten to know him pretty well because we are often paired together for long stints up in the apple trees or out on Berry Hill.

Steve Howard is the wholesale manager and the resident Bostonian on the farm. He’s got a sharp sense of humor and an even sharper business sense that doesn’t tolerate too much rambunctiousness. Dealing with restaurants is not an easy line but Steve is good at buddying up with the chefs and making sure that everyone gets what they want and all the bills get paid. I’ve had to pack the deliveries with him in the past and it’s no easy task. Not only can you not forget any of the restaurant orders, all the boxes have to be labeled correctly and properly noted with the product and exact weight included. He is meticulous with regards to the details, and that makes him good at his job. Steve loves to talk about growing up in Boston and the rest of the crew members joke that we could get a number of people in a lot of trouble because he always remembers the first and last names and the addresses of the characters from his youth.

Kat Johnson works part-time in the farmstore but is planning to move to Virginia in the spring to work on another farm. She’s an amazing painter/potter/visual artist/clothing designer.  She has redone a good portion of our apple signs and made the most beautiful painting of an apple life cycle that I’ve ever seen. Kat has spent her time on the farm living in the little shack by the creek with Jake. Her room, which we spent several weeks reclaiming from tangles of poison ivy vines, probably never gets warmer than 60 degrees because its so poorly insulated. She also had to put up with a string of unclaimed black cats coming to the shack and whining to be fed. I’m not sure exactly what relationship she had with the cats, but they always seem to be hanging around the house and I’m fairly certain Jake wouldn’t feed them if even if he had scraps he didn’t want. Kat is quirky and fun and we’ll all be sad to see her go in April.

This is the crew, as concisely as I can present it, anyways. I feel like I’ve left out too much, but that’s probably inevitable when real people are the object of reflection. I hope that at least this provides a glimpse at what the people on the farm are like and what to expect when you come out and visit!

Direction

I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May with a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, and, like so many of my classmates, I found myself weighted down by an indefinable dread at the thought of what was next. I wasn’t afraid applying for a job, or finding a place to live, or even beginning to pay my own bills. Those things were concrete. I knew that they would begin to fall into place as I moved forward. No, my real fear stemmed not from inexperience, but from indecision. For so many years my path had been clearly laid out in front of me and now, without regard for academic success or extracurricular participation, life stopped handing me my goals and said, “ok, now you decide”. It was like hiking on a narrow trail for miles with very few forks to choose from and then suddenly the path disappears in a thicket and anything further can only be accomplished by bush-whacking.

When my cousins Jamie and Amy Ager offered me a job helping out on the farm for the busy fall season, I jumped at the chance. Not only did I need direction, I was aching to get my hands dirty, to spend my days outdoors, and to acquire some skills beyond those peculiar academic qualities I’d nurtured for so long. I was a little concerned that moving back home and working on the family farm would be stifling. Unlike so many people who can’t wait to get out of their home town and away from their parents though, I feel blessed to live in a place like Fairview, surrounded by an interesting, loving, and exuberant family. This blog is my chance to give a little glimpse of what our conjunction of land, history, and family looks like—to me, at least. With all my talk of direction, this may seem like moving backwards and maybe it is. But it doesn’t feel that way. Someone told me once that history is not what just what happened, it’s who we are. In a sense, my writing here will be a journal of work on the farm, exploring the history of the land, and getting to know my family members as an adult; all things that I’m confident will help me to understand how I should move forward and where it is I want to go.  I hope that these entries are interesting not just for the stories that I will recount, but also for the learning process that is already taking place and which I will share as best I can, with you.

Exciting Additions for the Fall

We are gearing up for our 6th season of inviting families to our farm for fall activities and are excited to have expanded our offerings for 2012. Come check out the renovated barn which will include the famous hay pile, new trike track, expanded animal area and performance space. We have food trucks lined up to serve lunch and snacks and have diversified our products with in the farm store to include more beverages, local artists and crafters, pickled good and much more. The organic apples and raspberries continue to ripen and the bale maze is under construction. There are alot of new things in store for you this year, stop by and see us. Current hours are Wednesday- Friday 1-5 and Saturday 10-5. Starting September 1st we are open 7 days a week from 9 am – 6pm.

Perfect Roasted Chicken Recipe

One of the reasons I love getting a whole pasture raised chicken from the farm is because I get 3 meals out of one piece of meat! First, I roast the whole bird. Check out the Foodnetwork’s Perfect Roasted Chicken Recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/perfect-roast-chicken-recipe/index.html. Second I pick the carcass clean and save those chicken scraps for sandwiches, quesadillas, salads, etc. Third I place the carcass in a large stock pot, cover it with water and cook it on low for 8-24+ hours. Voila, you have chicken stock! Use the stock in your cooking or add salt, pepper, carrots, onions, and celery while its simmering for a hearty broth!