Jona Felts and Gretchen Farrell have been farming in the South Toe valley for several years, and have now brought their years of experience in agriculture to the Yancey County Farmers’ Market.
They moved to South Toe in 2012 with their now three year old daughter Opal. Prior to returning to Jona’s native home state of North Carolina they spent the previous decade oscillating between Costa Rica and northern Florida. Jona is a horticulturist by trade, having worked in greenhouses since he was 15 years old, as well as teaching “Greenhouse Production” at the community college level.
In Costa Rica they lived on a permaculture farm for many years where they learned, taught, and sold their harvests at the weekly farmers’ market. In Florida they started and managed the first farmers’ market and community garden in Gretchen’s home town of Jacksonville Beach. Through their non-profit Beaches Local Food Network, they also created an outreach program where they taught about local food and gardening at schools, churches, community centers, and universities.
Open Ridge Farm is about 3.5 acres along Rock Creek in the South Toe valley. They are currently farming about a quarter acre in annual veggies, as well as planting a diverse orchard, berries, asparagus, and grafting fruit trees to begin selling next year. With the old fruit trees and grapes on the land, they make a variety of products, and are in the process of building a farm kitchen and outdoor classroom for value-added products, workshops, and agri-tourism.
In addition to organically-grown produce, you will also find Jona’s famous “Pica Rica” hot sauce and his freshly baked organic whole wheat sandwich bread at the market every week.
You can find out more about Open Ridge Farm via their facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/openridgefarm
This week at the market: Fresh local produce continues to grow in variety. This week look for beets, broccoli, broccolini, chives, collards, fresh dill, garlic scapes, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mint, mushrooms, mustard, onions, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnips. Other farm products available will be chicken and quail eggs, goat cheese, seeds, flower arrangements, beef, and pork. Homemade jams and jellies, as well as fresh baked goods abound, and a wide variety of plants –both annuals and perennials – are also available. You’ll also find a variety of local crafts. Of course, there are always hot and cold drinks, plus market souvenirs to round out your visit.
The market is open each Saturday from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm. It is located behind the Burnsville Town Center – Hwy 19E at South Main Street.
Article by David Fleckenstein, courtesy of Yancey Times Journal.