Featured New Farm: Tiny Bridge

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Tiny Bridge Farm profile, Hendersonville, NC Ed Graves and KP Whaley Submitted by Nicole DelCogliano Organic Growers School

vegetables and eggsEd Graves and KP Whaley grow food for their community in Hendersonville using organic methods and simple tools. They moved to the region in 2010 and grow on ⅓ acre, with permanent beds and have a small CSA or farm share program for 10 families with weekly deliveries to Southern Appalachian Brewery. While both work full time, they strive to grow year-round, do a few farmers markets throughout the year and run their CSA program. They grow more than 100 varieties of vegetables plus chickens, bees, and small fruit.

Ed and KP are current students in Organic Growers School year-long farmer training, Farm Beginnings. They started in October of 2018 and will graduate in September 2019. According to Ed, “I thought I had some farming experience (when I applied)  but lacked a compass for business planning. KP had a marketing background but didn’t have the production experience. Farm Beginnings helped us reset some of our aspirations and come up with a plan that would be sustainable and profitable in the long term.”

They are currently in the mentorship phase of their program with Shawn Jadrnicek, of Wild Hope Farm in S.C. He ran the student organic farm at Clemson prior to his management position at Wild Hope. Ed reports, “Our mentor has been invaluable, giving us ideas we hadn’t considered and helping us reconsider decisions that we would have otherwise pursued. He suggested and mapped out where we should plant persimmons and strawberries and  helped me design and implement our irrigation system.”

Mentorship is critical to new and beginning farmers as well as being networked with other growers. According to Ed and KP, “One thing that surprised me was how much exposure we got to other growers and producers (in Farm Beginnings), what they shared about their challenges and successes, and now I feel more connected to a community of people producing food across western North Carolina.”

Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training is entering its fifth year offering a year-long farmer training. Organic Growers School has graduated 43 farmers in the last 4 years and will graduate 55  by September 2019. Organic Growers School will begin this year’s program in October 2019 at Creekside Farm & Education Center at Walnut Cove in Arden, NC and is currently accepting applications. The 2019-2020 program will continue a partnership with Living Web Farms who offer a diversity of farm and organic living workshops that students will have full access to, in addition to on-farm workshops at The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy’s Community Farm in Alexander, NC. Applications will be accepted for the program on a rolling basis until  September 15, 2019. Early bird discount of $100 off for applications received by August 1. More information and application for the Farm Beginnings® Farmer Training.

Visit the Tiny Bridge Farm website.

Written By

Karen Blaedow, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionKaren BlaedowExtension Agent, Agriculture - Vegetable and Small Fruit Call Karen E-mail Karen N.C. Cooperative Extension, Henderson County Center
Posted on Jul 20, 2019
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