Tucked away off Reynolda Road in Forsyth County, in our very midst, is Harmony Ridge, a 73-acre farm owned and operated by father and son, Kevin and Isaac Oliver. I sat down with them recently to learn more about their operation. The information in this piece was gleaned from that time together on a September afternoon.
Since 2009, Kevin and Isaac have sought to provide sustainably produced vegetables, fruits and meat to the local consumer and area restaurant trade. Kevin Oliver spent his career in the corporate world and returned to his Ohio farming roots to establish this farm. Isaac completed his studies at Wake Forest and wanted to make his life in the area in meaningful work. Harmony Ridge Farm combines the visions of father and son, follows organic standards and does not use chemical pesticides, herbicides or fungicides.
The bounty of Harmony Ridge Farm is sold to the local restaurant trade (75%), directly to consumers (20%) and to Farm Fresh, an organization seeking to provide low income families with affordable fresh fruits and vegetables to feed their families. Occasionally when God provides a super-abundance, local non-profits are called to help efficiently use the gifts of the Earth.
Like any enterprise, Harmony Ridge has undergone iterations as they learn the soil, climate and market that come together to define their operation. Today, their offerings include a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and root crops, eggs from their 2000 chickens, and meat from duck, hog and cattle. They also partner with area growers to offer crops they do not grow.
All their animals live a normal life outdoors and do not receive antibiotics or hormones and are never crowded indoors in stressful conditions. Almost all of all the meat produced in our country is raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Harmony Ridge Farm provides a positive alternative to meat produced in (CAFOs). Unless clearly labelled with an animal welfare rating, all meat offered in local grocery stores is produced in a CAFO with added hormones and antibiotics (needed due to the stressful conditions), extreme crowding and the resulting filthy conditions.
Harmony Ridge provides an opportunity to support a local business while simultaneously voting with your wallet and your fork to counteract the industrialization that has overtaken farming.
Industrialization of the meat industry has severe consequences for our air, arable land and water quality, and is why we have subsidies for corn and soy but not for fruits and vegetables that we can actually eat. CAFOs mean corporations take home the profits, the landowner/grower takes home a meager existence while ruining his community’s quality of life and property values and the consumer is left with a ruined planet and the increased likelihood of pandemic and antibiotic resistance.1 Harmony Ridge is one alternative to participating in that marketplace.
We all have choices to make with our grocery dollars. Kevin and Isaac have chosen to buy land, invest in equipment, seeds, and livestock, work hard, pray for good weather and grow edible crops and meat in our midst in the Wachovia Tract. Buying local strengthens our Triad economy and a robust food supply. Buying local also benefits our planet through lowered transportation, marketing, and tariff costs. Buying local also benefits you with fresh, high quality food and the knowledge that you are participating in a community-based economy. Eating healthy food is the foundation of good health.
Consider shopping with our local farmers. They have invested in us and seek to bring us nutritious, delicious food. By doing so, you will be supporting local business, discouraging vertically integrated industrial farming, strengthening our economy, lowering your carbon footprint and enjoying some really terrific food in the process. You might even make a new friend in the bargain. It is what the brothers and sisters of the Wachovia Tract did as a matter of course.
Harmony Ridge sells at the Cobblestone Market as well as at The Barn at 3835 Bowens Road, Tobaccoville, NC, on Saturday mornings. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get on their list serve for specials of the week. The seven-week fall CSA program begins in early October. You can find the details at http://www.harmonyridgefarms.net. Guter Appetit!
If you will only heed his every commandment that I am commanding you today—loving the Lord your God, and serving [God] with all your heart and with all your soul— then [God] will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, and you will gather in your grain, your wine, and your oil; and [God] will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you will eat your fill. Deuteronomy 11: 13-15
Submitted by Helen Bushnell Beets for the Earth Stewards Team
Edited by Don Frey, Elizabeth Harris and Rick Sides