5th generation, 4-season farmer, organic by a fluke: Faucette Farms
LOCAVORE’S DELIGHT: The Series # 15. Follow us all summer long as we explore the bounty of our region’s farms.
by MOLLY McGINN
You can’t round out a good locavore’s veggie plate without Mike Faucette and Faucette Farms.
If somebody can’t make it to the plate — if Schicker’s kale is between seasons — Mike is there to represent.
The 5th generation and 4-season farmer grows food year round, stocking his farmers market booth with certified organic green apples, eggplant, blackberries, blueberries, garlic, tomatoes, and these little cutie pies: pattypan squash.
About half of Faucette’s 500-acre farm is certified to grow organic foods that Mike supplies to restaurants, like Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, and to niche grocery stores and foodie centers such as Green’s Grocery in Gainesville, Ga, Whole Foods, and The Fresh Market.
Ever try the Blue Mountain Organics dried kale snacks? That’s Mike’s kale, too.
He has a growing Community Supported Agriculture program that supplies 250 to 300 people with a bag or box of fresh organic veggies each week.
“They go year round, so I definitely like that, and it’s organic,” says Laura McDuffee, who stopped by the farmers market on Yanceyville St. in Greensboro this week to fill her bag with fresh veggies. She’s been in Mike’s CSA program for about 9 months.
“I try everything,” Laura says about the variety of vegetables. “My son comes with me and he picks out a few things, too.
“We’ve been out to their farm to pick them up, and I picked some up Thursday at the Jewish Federation Center–there are lots of different places to pick them up. I’ve been very pleased.”
The farm started in the 1900s as a tobacco farm with a little produce “to squeeze out just enough” to support the Faucette family. As the farm grew — and families were added to work it — they needed to keep growing the business to keep those added families going year round, Mike says.
As for the organic part of the farm operation …
“It was a fluke that I got into the organic business,” Mike says.
Around 2006 Mike sat in on seminars and meetings with groups like the North Carolina Vegetable Growers Association. At the time, farmers were encouraged to grow organic herbs for over-the-counter medicines to compete with growers in China.
Mike set aside a little land to certify organic and tested a crop he knew well: tobacco. The funding for the medicinal herb program eventually dried up, and the pesticide that Mike used that year on the other tobacco crop – the non-organic yield – contained a fungus that killed the crop.
“The organic survived,” Mike says.
The farm still supports Mike’s family, and a few more. Three families work the farm; plus Polly and Larry, who look after the CSA program. His dad, now in his 70s, supervises the farm’s grain and soybean business. Mike’s own family, and his son Tyler’s family depend on the farm, too.
“We have to keep them going year round,” Mike says.
“My next step is tomato juice,” says Mike when asked. “Any time you have a product that you grow excessively, you try to make it value-added.”
He’s always loved tomato juice. And it’s his mom’s recipe.
Create your own Locavore’s vegetable plate, pictured above. Choose a vegetable side from a list of choices across the bottom in the center panel of the menu. Here are the freshest suggestions:
- Roasted Sesame Squash from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC
- Beans and Kale from Schicker’s Acre in Pleasant Garden, NC
- Tomatoes and Cucumbers from Faucette Farm in Brown Summit, NC
- Deviled Eggs from Massey Creek Farm in Madison, NC