This week we feature an interview with Ginger Sykes of Turtle Mist Farm in North Carolina. Ginger and Bob Sykes long dreamed of farming and now aim to share their love for nature and knowledge of where food really comes from with others.
FSUS: Fulfilling a long-time dream, you decided to start your farm after
working for 30 years in corporate America. Why did you choose North Carolina?
Ginger Sykes: We chose this area because it is not too far from my family in Maryland, the land prices here were unbelievable, the property is ideally located because it is rural but not too far from the city -- Our farm is 25 miles north of Raleigh.
FSUS: What's the setting like around your farm, and the landscape?
Ginger: The setting around the property is very peaceful, although we have close neighbors, while on the property you get a feeling of being in a small world all your own. The view from the guest house overlooking the pond makes you feel like you should be sitting on the front porch in the rocking chairs sipping lemonade.
FSUS: What kind of animals are on your farm now?
Ginger: We have pigs, cows, sheep, turkeys, chickens (laying and broilers), Muscovy duck, Guineas, quail, peacocks, 2 horses, a goat, and a donkey.
FSUS: Can you tell us about some of the unusual vegetables that you grow?
Ginger: Our garden is a small market garden (we grow just enough to take to the farmers market). But because we cannot compete with the larger vegetable farmers we chose to grow different veggies. We grow purple & white Kohlrabi (a cabbage turnip), Edamame, turmeric, Tatuma squash (just a different variety of squash), berry tomatoes (cherry tomatoes that are shaped like strawberries), malabar spinach (a summer vining spinach) mini bell peppers, Armenian cucumbers (they look and taste like cucumbers but are muskmelons).
FSUS: How did your farm get its name?
Ginger: We named the farm Turtle Mist because the pond in front of the guest has a large number of turtles in it and in the morning there's a fog that rolls across the pond.
FSUS: What do most guests do during a stay on your farm?
Ginger: Most of our guests are parents with small children who want their children to have the farm experience and to learn where their food comes from. After they tour the farm, we let them help us with our chores, i.e., gather eggs, feed the sheep and pigs, and they can help in the garden if they want. If they don't want to work, they can fish, paddle boat, visit with and take pictures of the animals. Our horse trainer offers horse instructions and riding. And, depending on how long they stay, some guests visit surrounding cities (Raleigh, Durham, Wake Forest).
(Photos courtesy Turtle Mist Farm)