On the weekend of March 1st-3rd, brothers of the North Carolina Chapter traveled to different areas of Piedmont to tour a variety of farming operations. Despite the rainy weather, we learned a lot of new information and had fun doing it!
To start to start off the weekend, brothers traveled to Julian, NC to the Homeland Creamery. Both Brother Kristina Britt and Brother Candace Redmon have previously been employed by this amazing farm. They manage approximately 200 head of Holstein and Jersey cows that they milk 3 times a day. Standing out from other dairies that pasteurize milk using the HTST (High Temperature Short Time) method, this farm uses the Vat method. The result is a high-quality product with more flavor and health benefits. While on this farm, we met some of the most prized genetics of the herd and learned about how valuable a highly revered breeding stock can be to a dairy operation. It was also fun to learn that some cows in this operation have been mothers to many well-known bucking bulls and award-winning show animals. After a quick taste of the delicious ice cream at the creamery, the brothers headed to our next destination.
The Carolina Stockyards and Restaurant in Siler City, NC was our next stop. Here, brothers first stopped to get a superior burger for lunch! The restaurant is connected to the stockyard, which was a very interesting and convenient setup. After filling our stomach’s, we then walked on a catwalk over the stockyard and viewed the animals that were soon to be auctioned off. We then sat in the auction for a time to get a feel of prices and the process by which animals are auctioned. This was a very good experience, especially for those brothers who had not had the opportunity to see this process before.
Our last stop on Friday, March 1stwas Chaudhry Halal Meat CO Inc, right next door to the Carolina Stockyards and Restaurant. This is a Halal custom slaughter and processing plant for beef, goat, lamb, chickens, ducks, and turkeys. Halal meat is food that adhered to the Islamic law, which requires animals to be processed a specific way. Brothers got a tour from Mr. Abdul Chaudhry, the owner of this business. He has a very interesting story, traveling to the United States from Pakistan at the age of 16 with no background in speaking English. Now, he is a very successful businessman. This was a very good tour that allowed brothers to see what happens to the meat we raise on farms during processing. This brought us to the end of our first day of Piedmont weekend.
The next morning, brothers traveled across the Piedmont to Salisbury, NC. Here, our first stop was Patterson Farm, Inc. This operation began in 1919 and has since grown and prospered. There are now 3 different aspects of this operation: the market, the production, and the packaging. As for the production, this operation grows approximately 200 acres of tomatoes, 45 acres of strawberries, 120 acres of peppers, 15,000 poinsettias, and much more each year. The market includes a marketplace with produce, food products, ice cream, and much more for sell throughout the year and a very expansive agrotourism program with a viewing/petting area and many different activities for children. The packaging house packages both products produced on the farm as well as products that are bought from other areas and repackaged. Overall, this is a very well-developed operation, and we learned a lot during our tour.
The next stop was Correll Farms, LLC in Cleveland, NC. This operation includes approximately 30 acres of vegetables (including tomatoes, celery, herbs, Brussel sprouts, fennel, and much more), 150 acres of soybeans/field corn, 35 head of Hereford and angus cows, and a small coup of laying chickens. This farm sells produce and products at farmers markets from April to October each year, with the addition of recipes that can be used with the produce you purchase! Finally, Mr. Correll also had the idea in 2013 to start an Old-Fashioned Home Delivery Program. This involves dropping off a basket of produce (and eggs if you would like them) off to each of the participating homes and businesses for 15 weeks starting in mid-April. This past year, Mr. Correll delivered about 90 baskets each week to locations in Salisbury, Davidson, Huntersville, and everywhere in between. This was a very unique operation, and brothers were amazed to hear how Mr. Correll could identify new niche markets each growing season. In his own words, “we pride ourselves in having odd stuff.”
Our last stop on Saturday, March 2ndwas Piedmont Research Station. Scribe Mikayla Graham in our chapter used to be employed at the Horticulture unit within this station. The Piedmont research station has 4 units: Row Crops, Horticulture, Poultry, and Dairy. The Row Crops and Horticulture Units have many different studies being done, including OVTs (official Variety Trials, disease and insect resistance trials, long term blueberry and blackberry studies, E Coli studies in strawberries and for air transmissions, and much more. The Dairy Unit includes about 150 head of Holstein cows with projects on nutrition, heat stress management, heard health, calf and heifer development, and reproduction studies. The Piedmont Research Station is the only of 18 stations that contains a Poultry Unit. This has research on commercial layers, broiler breeders, broilers, and incubations. Soon, there will be research on free range chickens once the construction on the structures has been completed. After this tour concluded, brothers retired to rest up for our next day of tours.
On Sunday, March 3rd, we traveled to Huntersville, NC to visit the Carolina Raptor Center which had previously employed our own Brothers Leigh Premo and Tessa Peerbolte. The Carolina Raptor Center is home to 32 species of raptors, with 86 birds total. On this tour, we got a behind the scenes look at some of the residential homes of these magnificent birds. We learned about the breeding habits of bald eagles, the large features of the Eurasian Eagle Owl, the imprinting nature of vultures, and even the crazy hunting habits of the tiny Logged Head Shrine. We also learned about the uses of raptors. In North Carolina, it is possible to get a Falcon License, and many people train these birds for hunting purposes. After learning about the birds, we then went to the veterinarian center. Here, we learned that this small center does an abundance of work, taking care of 877 cases last year alone. In many cases, these birds have their eyes, wings, or talons injured in hunting accidents. This was an awesome opportunity to learn about a side of veterinarian medicine that many people do not see or think about very often.
We then set off to Cauble Creek Vineyard in Salisbury, NC. This is an 8.5-acre muscadine vineyard with 3 varieties in production, and 7-8 being tested for their performance and quality. Muscadines are a type of grape that grow in the Southeastern US and are actually 4 times healthier than blueberries. These plants grow very well in the red clays of the Piedmont of North Carolina. Brothers got to learn about the wine making process, the cider making process, the aging process, and the marketing strategies for muscadine wines on this vineyard. Those of us that were 21 participated in a wine tasting, where we learned how to detect the different tastes in wines and identify what pleased our pallet the most. We were even able to travel outside to look at the vines and learn how the pruning process is done. After completing this tour, we made the trip back to Raleigh, finishing up Piedmont Weekend!
A big thank you to Brother Kristina Britt, Scribe Mikayla Graham, and Brother Tessa Peerbolte that set up these tours and made this weekend possible!