We are in a transition period from conventionally grown produce to growing produce with organic inputs. We have always grown using very conservative insecticide applications. Organic produce will be marked.

Always Growing Green

Back in 1986 when inspections to check our compliance with the new Farm Bill were completed, the only thing to be implemented was to straighten one terrace – all wide buffers along the creeks had not been disturbed through the years… proof of the good stewardship of all earlier generations. Through the years we have earned our designation as a conservation farm by providing cover for the wildlife as well as bluebird houses, bat boxes, and duck boxes. When cutting grain we leave the outside rounds for the animals. We use electric work carts to cut down on noise and fuel pollution. For conservation of water we use drip irrigation in our vegetables as well as the tobacco. Most overhead irrigation is done at night.

We practice companion plantings to attract beneficial insects, thereby limiting the need for pesticides. With diligent use of soil and tissue samples we are able to apply only needed amounts of fertilizer. We use legume cover crops to limit erosion and add nutrients to the soil. We have a timber management plan. Part of this plan is to salvage dead or damaged trees and take them to a neighboring sawmill. The lumber is then used for farm building and repairing, the rest goes for winter heat firewood.

The south side of the farm is bordered by approximately two miles of Haw River frontage. The streams on this farm drain to the river making them an important source for protection. Agriculture and conservation easements have been placed on 370 acres with the Piedmont Land Conservancy and the North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement Program. We have dug three wells and installed 28 cattle waterers and fenced out 45 acres along the banks of the creeks on the farms. Two of these wells as well as the augers at the feed bins are solar powered.

We now grow 25 acres of organic tobacco and the farms have over 153 acres of certified organic land. In addition to the organic tobacco, we are growing our vegetables with organic inputs. Because our pasture land is used as part of a rotating crop system with our organic tobacco and vegetable crops, and in an attempt to lesson our demand for conventional energy sources, it is our intention to further explore the possibilities of using the same gravity flow system used for the cattle waterers as a source for irrigation.

My goals as this generation’s steward of the land are to treat the land with respect, to preserve clean air and clean water by maintaining over 200 hundred acres in trees and adding fenced buffers, and to ensure that all of our farm operations make us a good environmental neighbor in the community.

Why Buy Locally Grown Produce?

As Jane always says, “You can either grow to eat or grow to ship.” Studies show that the typical item of food on an American dinner plate travels some three thousand miles to get there. In other words the food was grown or raised to meet shipping and shelf life requirements…fresh, ripe and flavorful were not top priorities! Increasing fuel prices, the increased level of carbon dioxide emissions from semi-trailer trucks as compared to lighter farm trucks, not to mention the inflation of food prices that this creates, are all good reasons to buy locally produced foods. But, the best reason is the taste factor. The taste of something picked from the garden in the morning and served on your plate for dinner that night is nothing like that of the same product shipped across the country and then placed in a vegetable bin at the grocery store to sit for up to several weeks!

Most often, buying locally means that you are getting the varieties of produce that grow best in the conditions for your area. The German Johnson Tomato is an example of an heirloom variety that is a proven producer in our soil conditions, but is seldom seen outside of Alamance County. It is a local favorite that sells at our Vegetable Barn at a ratio of about 10 to 1 over other varieties. It is grown in our fields and left to ripen on the vines. The tomato is picked, gently washed and sold in our Vegetable Barn and then served on your dinner plate within hours of picking. The flavor is sweet, fresh and delicious!  But, the German Johnson is not a good “keeper.” It is not a variety that a farmer would grow to be shipped to California. The quality of the tomato would suffer from being picked green, packed in crates, handled roughly and shipped several thousand miles in a truck through many different weather conditions. Where’s that delicious sweet taste?…Lost, somewhere along the way. Better to enjoy the fresh taste of our locally grown favorite than to eat an inferior product shipped from thousands of miles or even continents away!

The decision to eat locally is also an act of conservation. The logo on the Iseley Farms caps we wear reminds us that not only are we “Happily Growing Your Vegetables,” we are “Also Growing Your Clean Air and Water.” Supporting the local farmer keeps the rolling green pastures and fields in our landscape…or as has been said …”Eat to Protect Your View!”

Being able to connect with the source of your food creates a trust relationship that can ease our minds about how the food we eat is grown and how animals are treated. While none of this information can be obtained from grocery store labels, it can easily be discerned in a conversation with the local farmer. Eating locally grown products allows us to “put a face” on the foods we eat.