Farm Visit Snapshots: Off Grid in Color

— Written By

From Chatham County Agriculture Agent Debbie Roos: Farm Visit Snapshots are a new feature on my Growing Small Farms website. A big part of my job as an Agriculture Agent is visiting farms to provide advice on crop production, marketing, and general management. I always have enjoyed taking photos during these visits and sharing on social media to promote agricultural literacy. I am now also sharing them on my website to widen the audience. These Farm Visit Snapshots provide a glimpse into activities on the farm during that visit.

In early October, I visited Chatham County’s Off Grid in Color and talked with farmer Chantel Johnson. Chantel describes Off Grid in Color as a homestead sanctuary for health and wellness. She started the farm in 2016 as a place for her to heal after the tragic death of her brother in Chicago. She sold her first turkey in 2017, and that was when she went from being a homesteader to a farmer! Her mission at Off Grid in Color is to encourage others to take steps towards greater self-sufficiency through farm-raised meat, birth coaching (Chantel is a certified doula), and community outreach. The farm hosts popular workshops and retreats to teach homesteading. Chantel also enjoys mentoring beginner farmers.

Chantel raises chicken, turkeys, and pigs at Off Grid in Color. She leases farmland and is currently looking for farmland to buy to establish a permanent home for Off Grid in Color. She is crowdsourcing funding to help with this effort. Learn more about this.

You can find Off Grid in Color at several local farmers markets:

Fearrington Farmers Market

  • Tuesdays from 4–6 p.m.

Carrboro Farmers Market

  • Wednesdays from 3–6 p.m.

Black Farmers Market

  • Durham: 2nd Sundays from 1–4 p.m.
  • Raleigh: 4th Sundays from 1–4 p.m.

Visit the Off Grid in Color website for more information. Follow the farm on Facebook and Instagram. For more information or to connect with Off Grid in Color, email Chantel.

I hope you enjoy the photos below. The photo captions provide further details.

Chantel raises Cornish Cross chickens outdoors

Chantel raises Cornish Cross chickens outdoors. The females are larger (4-5 lbs) and are processed into cuts. The smaller males are processed and sold as whole birds. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Chantel fills the waterers

Chantel fills the waterers. Electric poultry netting keeps the birds inside the pasture. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Poultry is processed at Dependable Poultry in Hurdle Mills

The poultry is processed at Dependable Poultry in Hurdle Mills. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Chantel sells at several local farmers' markets

Chantel sells at several local farmers’ markets. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Turkeys

All the Thanksgiving turkeys have been pre-sold and there is a waiting list! This is the older flock. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Broad-breasted white turkeys

Broad-breasted white turkeys. The turkeys are rotated through different sections of the woods every week or so. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Woman with pigs

Chantel enjoys hanging out with her pigs. She likes their self-sufficiency. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Woman working with pigs

In early June, when Covid caused severe disruption in the national food supply chain, many North Carolina feeder pig producers were suddenly without a market for their pigs and so the pigs were in danger of being euthanized. Many of these feeder pigs were sold to small producers like Chantel. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Pig looking at camera

The pigs are allowed to roam the woods rooting around for food. A very short electric fence keeps them contained. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Brooder housing chicks

Chantel uncovers the brooder that houses the chicks. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Woman holding chick

These chicks are about to be put out on pasture where they will almost double in size. She has been leaving these a little longer in the brooder than normal due to their size to protect them from aerial predators. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Booth at famers market

Chantel from Off Grid in Color at the Fearrington Farmers’ Market on a rainy day in June. Photo by Debbie Roos.