The Evolution of an NC Farm

There are still many farms, especially in south and eastern North Carolina that are still owned by a family that received a land grant from the King of England. Rainbow Meadow Farms, near Snow Hill, is one such farm, having received their grant in 1746.

Sandra Garner is the 6th generation to farm Rainbow Meadows, along with her children and grandchildren, who are 7th and 8th generations on the Greene County farm.

Garner describes some of the evolution of Rainbow Meadows:

“It used to be a tobacco and grain crop farm, until 1999 when we decided to sell our tobacco allotment. At that same time we had been growing chickens for Perdue, but after a plant closing we were dropped.”

Once tobacco and contract poultry growing was out of the picture, the next phase of Rainbow Meadows was naturally raised meat, according to Garner:

“My daughter insisted that we start to grow chickens on the ground and we became one of the largest growers in North Carolina. We have gotten back into pastured pork, and have been in the beef business all of my life, my father was one of the first registered angus breeders in North Carolina.”

And then came the sheep:

“In the meantime in 1996, we imported sheep from South Africa and were one of the first farms in the US to do so. We have sold breeding stock across the US and into Mexico. We are concentrating our efforts on the meat end, but we also continue our breeding stock sales.”

And while the certification of organic, the term naturally raised are very much in vogue these days, Garner explains that whether a trend or not, that’s the way they’ve always done things:

“We don’t put out any commercial fertilizers. We don’t spray any weed killer. We don’t put out any pesticides because the chickens take care of most of that. That’s the way we have always done it, especially since we have gotten out of tobacco and grain.”

As far as marketing, Garner says they make an effort to stay diversified:

“We have a booth at the Raleigh farmers market and also one at the New Bern Market. We will continue those. We service some restaurants and some co-ops.”

And while Rainbow Meadows continues to evolve, Garner doesn’t anticipate the farm changing hands:

“We don’t think this farm will ever be for sale. It hasn’t been in all these years, I feel it will be passed on to our children and grandchildren.”

Sandra Garner of Rainbow Meadow Farm near Snow Hill, North Carolina. Click here to go to their farm website.

images courtesy of Rainbow Meadow Farms.


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