Reading time: 3 minutes
Takeaway: Billy Place Farm continues a farm family legacy, now focused on providing high quality, organically produced heritage breed sheep, chickens, veggies and flowers.
The hour long drive from Greensboro ended at the farm gate, and the road ended just a quarter mile down the hill between a breathtaking barn and a fairy-tale cottage. Guineas, chickens and lambs were milling about, and there was golden silence and peace.
Volunteering last week on the first Cobblestone Farmers Market Barns & BBQ farm tour gave me the glad opportunity to visit with Cynthia Glasscoe and visit the farm she runs with help from her son, Chris Reavis, and neighbors. The first farmers they know of on the land were the Martin family, who kept the land in the family from the 1700s till 1944, when her father bought 106 acres from them. At one point, a person could find a grist mill, blacksmith, and even liquor on the property, but Cynthia keeps her focus on farming.
Like her farm, Cynthia is delightful! She’s got a ready smile, and her wiry frame and tanned skin are a testament to her seemingly non-stop farm work. Her cottage is the epitome of quaint, with painted floors and salvaged architectural features like the old fireplace mantel framing her bathroom sink. There’s a couple of porches with swinging chairs for unwinding, and an outdoor shower for cleaning off after a day in the dirt. Her love for a well-tended space in all areas is obvious.
The land meshes well with her style – well-planned, with some whimsy. The top part of the farm has a fair view of the hills, but heading past the main chicken coop and down the hill, a few dozen acres of open bottom are tucked into the forested hills, what folks from Tennessee might call a “holler”. Up top, sheep graze in a pasture behind the hoop house, zinnias line the road and the eggplants are just finishing their summer season. Down below, St. Croix sheep relax next to their barn, sweet Pyrenees pups loll in the pasture next door, and guineas with their chicks cruise for insects. The main feature of this back part of the farm is that barn! Over two stories high, with a cupola and weathervane atop it, the barn defines quiet charm, with salvaged windows and porch railings and a swan in flight.
Like many farmers in the area, the cost of USDA Organic certification doesn’t make financial sense for her, but she follows organic practices and focuses on improving the health of her land as much as providing healthy food. Her newly planted broccoli and cauliflower patch doesn’t have any store-bought fertilizers, but is a rich mix of leaf compost, sheep and llama manure. Practicing space intense practices, most of her crops are efficiently tucked into raised beds, allowing her more control over the soil and moisture.
The sheep and chickens are all heritage breeds, animals prized for their characteristics like docility and meat flavor, but not necessarily the highest producers for many geographies. The St. Croix she raises are what’s known as “hair” sheep; instead of wool, their coats are naturally shedding hair, akin to goats. Though the hair can’t be harvested and used the same way as wool, not having to shear the flock reduces her labor costs and the lower lanolin content (the oil wooly sheep produce) results in a milder flavored meat. Her flocks are Animal Welfare Approved, and I will guaranty that they are happy and healthy, living their lives in an ideal way.
You can catch Cynthia and her goods at the Cobblestone Market in Old Salem. And when you see the announcement for the second annual Barns & BBQ farm tour next year, don’t miss it!
Where to find them:
Stores: The Good Food Grower’s Market-1910 Highway 66 South, Kernersville, NC 27284, (336)904-0597
Restuarants: Diamondback Grill-751 North Avalon Rd, Winston-Salem, NC, (336)722-000