Farm Visit Snapshots: In Good Heart Farm

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I visited In Good Heart Farm outside Pittsboro in mid-May and again in mid-July. Ben Shields and Patricia Parker started their farm in Clayton, NC in 2010 then moved to Chatham County in 2016 to farm the land once known as Ayrshire Farm after farmer Bill Dow passed away in 2012. Ayrshire Farm was North Carolina’s first certified organic farm. Bill built a lasting legacy and everyone was thrilled when In Good Heart Farm moved here to farm the soil that Bill worked so hard to improve over the years.

Ben and the crew grow over 100 different crops year-round on about five acres total using organic practices. Crops include vegetables, flowers, herbs, small fruits, and tree fruits. They market through farmers’ markets, to restaurants, and also offer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares. They also regularly donate produce to Robin Hood’s Kitchen and CORA Food Pantry to serve families in need. Visit the farm website for more details.

You can find In Good Heart Farm at the Fearrington Farmers’ Market (Tuesdays from 4–6 p.m.) and the Pittsboro Farmers’ Market (Thursdays from 3–6 p.m.). Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Four people looking at camera

The In Good Heart Farm family: Ben Shields, Patricia Parker, and kids Elliott and Abilene. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Crops in garden

Spring crops in mid-May. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Field with plants

Lower field in mid-May. The silage tarp is used to help kill weeds and break down crop debris until time to plant again. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Row cover

The row cover helps exclude insect pests. The flowers of bolted crops provide forage for bees. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Plants in garden

On the left is a bed of milky oats and purple-stem wheat in mid-May. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Potato crops in field

Potato crop in mid-May. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Man looking at camera

Ben checking out the seedlings in the greenhouse. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Man and woman planting herbs

Nikki and Jim plant perennial herbs in mid-May. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Herb gardens

Mid-July shot of the perennial herb garden. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Tomato plants

Cherry tomatoes in the high tunnel in mid-July. Ben has tomatoes in three different tunnels! Photo by Debbie Roos.

Tomatoes on the vine

Gorgeous ripe tomatoes. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Pepper field

Pepper field in mid-July. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Purple flowers in garden

Flowers like these two varieties of Celosia are cut for bouquets and also provide forage for pollinators. Photo by Debbie Roos.


Sunflower row. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Tomato and tumeric plants

Another tunnel with tomatoes and turmeric. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Sweetpotato field

Sweetpotato field in mid-July with bee hives in the distance. I always look forward to his sweetpotato greens (yummy!). Photo by Debbie Roos.

Two men harvesting celery

Ben and Jim harvest celery in mid-July to take to the Fearrington Farmers’ Market that afternoon. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Man smiling at camera

Nothing better than freshly cut, fragrant, and flavorful celery! Photo by Debbie Roos.

Man harvesting blueberries

Ben harvests blueberries in mid-July. They also grow blackberries, pears, and apples. Photo by Debbie Roos.

People at farmers market booth

Ben at the Fearrington Farmers’ Market. Photo by Debbie Roos.

Apples, blueberries, and tomatoes

Chatham County heirloom apple ‘Aunt Rachel’ with blueberries and tomatoes at the Fearrington Farmers’ market in mid-July. Photo by Debbie Roos.