Young Farmers Grow Hope for Better Food

Christopher Fielden, Red Wing Farm
´╗┐When I confessed to vendor Christopher Fielden that I was struggling with tomato seedlings that I started indoors this spring, he knew exactly what my problem was.  Although the seedlings sprouted normally, they languished in the final couple of weeks before I could set them outdoors.  Fielden explained that my windowed sunroom was probably not providing enough light without an extra grow light on the plants.  My frustration was tempered somewhat by the opportunity to purchase some hearty heirloom tomato plants started at Fielden's Red Wing Farm.

"It's fun, it's fun to garden.  It's also extremely satisfying to know right where your food comes from," Fielden shared his excitement that he's been able to quit his day job, while his homesteading partner works part-time off the farm, just five years after they purchased land in Swannanoa together.  At first, they thought they'd just grow food for themselves.  "One thing has led to another and we decided that we wanted to have a market garden and not only provide for ourselves, but also see if we can make a living working on the farm."

This has been Red Wing Farm's second year at the Asheville Herb Festival.  They spent the last growing season selling at tailgate markets in North Carolina.  They offer naturally-grown plants and produce that is not certified organic, but what they call "Beyond Organic!"  Fielden says, "We welcome any of our customers to come out to the farm and see how we grow food.  The way we grow food far exceeds organic standards. For example not only are we not using any sort of chemicals that are not allowed under organic standards, but when we grow food we are thinking about the entire system.  We're thinking about the health of the soil for example, and we're building our soil and we practice using using no-till methods.  We use permanent raised beds.  We don't till because tilling destroys soil structures and it kills life in the soil, and we want to encourage the life in the soil."

Whether I can grow the tomatoes myself or find some of Red Wing's produce at a truck market, I'm excited about the vine-ripened taste that doesn't grow at the typical grocery store.

A final note:  Fielden's partner, Beth Trigg, manages a lovely blog about farm life called the Milkweed Diaries.  It's a great one to bookmark, because you never know what new things they'll be trying on the homestead.  I noticed they've had an exciting visit from a swarm of bees this week!

UT Student Market Promotes Organics

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