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.
On December 5, 2020 I visited Granite Springs Farm north of Pittsboro in Chatham County to check in with farmer Meredith Leight. Meredith has been farming since 2009 and is known for her beautiful vegetables and mushrooms. Meredith sells year-round at the Thursday Pittsboro Farmers’ Market. She also sells to local restaurants and has an 18-week fall/winter/early spring Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program with pick-up sites in Pittsboro and Chapel Hill (the 2020/2021 CSA is full; contact Meredith for info on the 2021/2022 CSA).
Meredith has been purposely reimagining her farm over the past few years to improve its long-term sustainability. She has worked hard to figure out what her evolving goals are, and kept long lists of what she enjoyed and didn’t enjoy, and why. She then used these lists to make adjustments to make herself happier which helped to decrease burnout and get her excited about farming again.
On the day I visited Meredith she was working in her high tunnels and also harvesting and washing lettuce to donate to Robin Hood’s Kitchen, a new group in Pittsboro that recovers food from farms and retailers and cooks it up to donate to the CORA Food Pantry to help needy families. Click here to see photos and learn more about Robin Hood’s Kitchen.
You can find Granite Springs Farm at the Pittsboro Farmers’ Market on Thursdays. Visit their website and follow them on Facebook and on Instagram at @gsfpbo. You can also email Meredith if you have questions or want to connect.
Below are photos I took at Granite Springs Farm on December 5, 2020. More details are provided in each photo caption.
I love this view from the bottom field showing Meredith and her dog Tater in front of the four high tunnels. Meredith has slowly added more high tunnels over the past few years, most recovered from other farms that no longer needed them. Meredith and her crew invested labor and materials to disassemble, relocate, then reassemble and refurbish on her farm. Photo by Debbie Roos.
The field next to this high tunnel has been covered with a silage tarp. It has since been removed and planted in a rye cover crop. This is the first year Meredith has used the tarps. They provide many benefits: they can help speed decomposition of crop residues; they suppress weeds; and they keep soil dry ahead of planting. Photo by Debbie Roos.
One of the high tunnels showing the diversity of crops. A cover crop was just seeded on the right. Photo by Debbie Roos.
Because Meredith has worked hard to acquire and refurbish several old tunnels in the past few years, her goal is not necessarily to always maximize the space with high-value crops which is typically the priority with such valuable real estate. She likes to experiment in her high tunnels. Photo by Debbie Roos.
This field at the upper edge of the farm was covered by a silage tarp in late September. It was pulled back recently so Meredith could hill the beds and add compost and organic fertilizer. Garlic was planted under the white part on December 9 and mulched with leaves. Rye was seeded on the far left and in between the beds. The tarp will remain on the beds to the far right which will be planted in onions in March, and the tarp will help keep the beds dry so that the crop can get planted on time. Spring rains can often delay planting when the soil is too wet to be worked. Photo by Debbie Roos.
Meredith discusses her cover crop rotations. This field was planted in crimson clover and rye. Cover crops are integral to Granite Springs Farm. Prior to the cover crop this field was also tarped to suppress the weed hairy galinsoga. Photo by Debbie Roos.
Watering some lettuce seedlings in the greenhouse. Photo by Debbie Roos.
Meredith produces microgreens, mostly for her CSA customers. Her oyster mushroom growing kits are on top of the shelves. Photo by Debbie Roos.
Sunflower microgreens. Photo by Debbie Roos.
Meredith harvests lettuce in the high tunnel to donate to Robin Hood’s Kitchen. Photo by Debbie Roos.
Gorgeous Salanova lettuce greens! Photo by Debbie Roos.
Meredith made a bubbler to wash lettuce and greens because that requires so much labor. A bubbler is made from a Jacuzzi pump and PVC pipe and gently agitates the greens to remove dirt. It streamlines the process and is a real time-saver! Photo by Debbie Roos.
Meredith removes the lettuce greens after washing and puts them into a mesh bag. Photo by Debbie Roos.
Meredith loads the mesh bags filled with washed lettuce into a washing machine which serves as a giant salad spinner! They are run through the spin cycle to remove excess water. Photo by Debbie Roos.
Meredith weighs the bag of lettuce for her harvest records. This lettuce will be donated to Robin Hood’s Kitchen to be made into salads for the CORA Food Pantry. Photo by Debbie Roos.
Meredith’s rescue beagle Tater enjoys a wonderful life on the farm with his mom! Photo by Debbie Roos.