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NC State Extension

Perry-Winkle Farm

en Español

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Photos and text by Debbie Roos, Agricultural Extension Agent.

 Overview: The Big Picture

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flower field

At Perry-winkle Farm, diversity is the name of the game. Every bed is usually planted in a different crop – flowers often alternate with vegetables, herbs, and cover crops. This mid-September view of the farm shows, from left to right, white and purple Gomphrena, mixed zinnias, and a millet cover crop.

Cathy and Mike grow about 240 different varieties of vegetables and cut flowers, plus warm- and cool-season cover crops.

Cathy with zinnias

Cathy with an armful of freshly cut zinnias. Zinnias are one of Cathy’s “workhorse” varieties – always dependable and spectacular. Cut flowers are one of the most profitable crops grown at the farm and they grow about 120 different varieties. They sell both growers’ bunches (all of the same variety) and mixed bouquets. They sell their flowers at the farmers’ markets, to restaurants, and for many special events, including weddings.

crop diversity

Early April view of mulched cool-season vegetable crops – from left to right, collards, broccoli, garlic, broccoli, and lettuce. Cathy and Mike sell at the farmers’ markets from March through December and aim to have a diversity of crops to harvest 9-10 months of the year!

mulched tomatoes

Cover crops play a vital role at Perry-winkle Farm. They improve soil quality, provide nutrients, prevent erosion, moderate soil temperatures, conserve moisture, and help control insect, weed, and disease problems. This tomato crop benefits from a thick layer of mulch grown in place as a rye cover crop from fall to early spring. They do not import straw mulch from off-farm for fear of weed seeds.

crop diversity

There is no wasted space at Perry-winkle! This early September shot shows, from left to right, peppers, Gomphrena (globe amaranth), Celosia, and okra. Such intense diversity helps enhance the effectiveness of beneficial insects and keeps a check on diseases.

chickens on pasture

Cathy and Mike integrated pastured poultry onto their farm in 2002. The laying hens help control insect pests and weeds and provide valuable nutrients for crops. Fresh eggs are always in demand at the farmers’ markets and provide supplemental income. These girls are shown on a mowed winter cover crop in early April.

Cathy with chicken

Cathy shows off Sylvester, one of four roosters, and the only chicken on the farm who lets her pick him up!

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Page Last Updated: 9 years ago
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