Reading time: 3 minutes
Takeaway: In 7 words: Beautiful farm, happy animals, cool young famers! Catch Worth and Hillary with their vegetables, mushrooms, flowers, pork and lamb at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market and the Winston-Salem Cobblestone Markets.
In late May, I travelled out to Pine Trough Branch Farm, AKA PTB Farm, in Rockingham County. On the way from downtown Greensboro, you can see the farmland disappearing before your eyes as pastures are yielding to identical housing developments and apartment complexes. What a delightful relief it was to pass through the trees that frame the dirt-road entrance, inhale the fresh air and see the rolling pastures!
Hillary and a couple of very friendly canines greeted me at the farmhouse and we toured the “beyond organic” vegetable garden. “Beyond organic” at PTB Farm means they don’t use any sprays or other chemicals—not even those on the USDA organic approved list. (Many small farmers grow their food organically, but can’t afford the steep price tag associated with being certified organic.) That day we saw peas, peppers, kales, and lots of other tasty delights that PTB will sell at the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market and the Winston-Salem Cobblestone Markets.
Although Hillary has lived and worked on a farm almost her whole life, learning to grow in the Piedmont was quite a change. In the Western NC mountains where she grew up, tomatoes aren’t put in the ground till nearly mid-June, which is about two full months after her tomatoes can go in the ground here.
Worth, on the other hand, is right at home at PTB Farm, literally; he and his sister Jenny were raised on these nearly 120 acres their mother inherited from their grandfather. After graduating from Warren Wilson College (both he and Hillary are alumni), the first commercial livestock he purchased and raised on the farm was a flock of Katahdin sheep in 2010. In 2011, he started buying feeder hogs from another farmer and tending them till they were ready for slaughter. Last year, they purchased four sows from a retiring farmer and now control the whole hog, if you will.
I repeatedly told Hillary that this was one of the prettiest farms and some of the happiest farm animals I’d ever seen. Apparently the folks at Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) agree since PTB Farm was approved in April of last year. Among other things, an annual audit checks all their records and verifies health, handling, and hauling plans. According to the AWA website, “The basic premise of all the standards is that animals must be able to behave naturally and be in a state of physical and psychological well-being.”
Another innovative feature at PTB farm is their co-op program. Unlike a typical CSA program, where you have to show-up for scheduled pick-ups throughout the growing season and receive a box of what’s growing that week in exchange for money up-front, with the PTB Farm co-op program, you still pay up-front, but choose what you like over the growing season when you see them at the farmers market which then gets deducted from your credit balance. Essentially, you make a short-term loan to PTB and they make repayments with pork chops and shiitakes. The program is closed for new sign-ups at this time, but be on the look-out for sign-ups next spring.
Stop by and see Hillary or Worth in Greensboro or Winston-Salem; ask them about their favorite way to cook what they offer. You won’t be disappointed!
Where to find them:
Greensboro Farmers Curb Market
Saturdays, 7-12 (all year)
Wednesdays, 8-1 (May-December)
Cobblestone Farmers Market, Winston-Salem
Old Salem Museum and Gardens, Saturdays, 9-Noon, April – November 21, 2015
Trade Street (under the patio at Mary’s Gourmet Diner), Wednesdays, 3:30-6pm, May 6-October 28
What they’ve got (subject to the seasons, of course!):