2020 FOCN Fund – Grant Recipient Summaries
Anthony Jones – Morning Glory Homestead Farm, St. Helena Island, SC
Anthony’s project will involve transitioning from a conventional till operation to a no-till operation as a means of increasing the health of the soil and promoting greater weed control. With the use of tarps, they will cover portions of their field for several months to allow weeds to die and turn into biomass. The tarps will then be removed and a thick layer of compost will be applied. The vegetable plants will be planted directly into the compost. This process will be repeated until the entire field is transitioned.
Morning Glory Homestead Farm is owned and operated by Anthony (Tony) and Belinda Jones. Tony is a retired US Army Major; he and Belinda reared their military family in many several states and a few countries before his retirement in 2002. After years of gardening in 2016 Morning Glory Homestead Farm was established to provide locally and naturally grown produce and eggs to our customers. Tony is farming full time while Belinda is part-time.
Bernard Obie – Abanitu Organics, Roxboro, NC
With this project, Bernard will expand the available growing space on his farm. With additional fencing he plans to use the new area to grow beans, sweet potatoes, and bulk greens. The extra growing space will also allow him to do more crop rotations.
Abanitu means ‘from the heart of God’, and is a certified organic farm located in northern Person County near Roxboro, North Carolina. Soil health and fertility are a central focus. What a great privilege and honor to farm the land tended by one’s ancestors! Abanitu Organics is the latest expression of love for the land by my family – five consecutive generations of farmers tending the same farmstead in northern Person County, North Carolina. As I walk the roads and trails of Abanitu, memories of family and events revolving around the life on the farm are constant. We can proudly stand, plant, eat and share with others a legacy as rich as the soils of Abanitu.
This collaborative project will bring together the expertise and infrastructure of two operations to grow a combination of traditional and niche vegetables matching the increasing cultural diversity of their community. The vegetables will be sold through local markets and direct customer sales, with a focus on serving the elderly and single parent families. As the new garden space is developed to source to the new local markets, both farmers will increase their apiary size and provide crop pollination for the garden.
Berry Hines is a retired United States Army veteran of 4 armed conflicts – Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, and Desert Shield/Desert Storm and 22 years active service. Originally from Robeson County and the grandson of a sharecropper, Berry learned farming and beekeeping from his grandparents. After his retirement Mr. Hines became a Commercial Crop Pollinator. Berry is a MasterBeekeeper/Test Proctor of the Coastal Plains Beekeeping Club and an at large member of the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association. He has approximately 400 colonies of bees across North Carolina. Mr. Hines is the owner of Bee Blessed Pure Honey, that sells local unprocessed/unfiltered varietal honey at the Raleigh State Farmers Market 19 + years. He also provides honey to restaurants, stores and to other commercial outlets.
Chana J. White received an Associate degree in Micro-Computer Systems Technology in 1993 from Beaufort County Community College. Over the years she worked on both the administrative and hands-on side of healthcare. In 2012, she was a farm intern with Whitaker Small Farm Group at North Carolina A&T University. During this internship, Chana realized her love for all things agriculture. She went on to receive her Associate degree in Agricultural Business from Beaufort County Community College in 2017. That same year Chana established Native Brand Honey, LLC, Bear Farmacy, LLC, and became a NC Certified Beekeeper. Chana is currently a Project Director with Whitaker Small Farm Group, manages her 2 companies, has over 20 beehives, her greenhouse, and began a community garden in her area.
Demetrius Hunter – B Farmers Hub, Raleigh, NC
In response to COVID-19, Demetrius Hunter is developing the B Farmers Hub to make sure that even the most vulnerable populations in Durham, Johnston, Orange, and Wake counties have access to home delivered farm goods. With an online purchasing portal and a network of farmers supplying food and assisting with home delivery, B Farmers Hub plans to expand their sales and delivery capacity. The funds will support this project through the purchase of a refrigerated vehicle and upgrades to the packaging space.
As the son of a farmer during the great depression. Our family always pulled together with other farmers to make through the tough times. Currently our food hub uses this strategy in our communities. We work with our farmers of color across the state and serve communities that need it most! We pack their products and ensure it remains with quality. I take pride in our legacy and what my dad started.
Eva M Moss – Heartstrong Farm, Staley, NC
Eva’s project will improve her ⅛ acre cut flower business by adding a caterpillar tunnel over an open field to protect the crop from severe storms and heavy rain. Eva has transitioned her business from a flower and vegetable CSA to growing specialty cut flowers and garlic for bouquets, wholesale flowers, and garlic flower braids as these products command a higher premium than produce and are more financially flexible through weather damage and crop loss.
Heartstrong Farm is a small farm business on leased land of a historical farmland property in Staley, North Carolina found through NC Farm Link. We grow specialty cut flowers and heirloom garlic on a small scale with just over 1/8 acre in cultivation. We use non-GMO seed and regenerative practices, including cover cropping, crop rotations, minimal tillage, building soil through addition of organic matter, encouraging biodiversity, and use of certified organic inputs.
Harold Long – Long Family Farms and Gallery, Murphy, NC
Harold plans to diversify his offerings by incorporating new fruits, heritage chickens, and mushrooms into the farm operations. He will sell the mushrooms fresh as well as develop value-added mushroom products and create an agritourism event. By focusing on autosex breeds, Harold will fill the gap in local availability of heritage chickens and quail for meat or eggs. And the new cultivation of muscadine, asian pear, and blueberries will complement the farm’s existing Heirloom Seed and Heirloom Vegetable program.
Long Family Farms is a Cherokee Indian Family Farm. We use Organic Practices and use Heirloom Seeds. We have participated with the Eastern Band Of Cherokee Indians for the past 12 yrs providing Heirloom Seeds in the annual Garden Kits that go out to 800 Cherokee Families. We were named North Carolina Small Farmer of the Year in 2019.
Helen & Joseph Fields – Joseph Fields Farm, Charleston, SC
In addition to running a 50-acre certified organic farm, Helen & Joseph also provide educational opportunities for students for nearby schools and host farm tours. It is important to them to teach kids where their food comes from and train the next generation of farmers. The project will support the construction of a shed to shield farm visitors from inclement weather. Helen & Joseph hope to eventually use this space for summer kids camps and a kitchen for making value added products.
Joseph Fields is a 3rd Generation farmer of Joseph Fields Farm from St. Johns Island, South Carolina. I began learning how to farm from my parents when I was a young child.I thoroughly enjoy what I do and teaching others about the craft. I am organically certified.The goal of my career is to make sure my grandson is well prepared to take over the farm and any other young person who is interested in farming can have an opportunity to learn from my farm too.I will mentor others about farming to the best of my knowledge and ability.
Herbert Brown – Browntown Farms, Warfield, VA
Building on seven years of experience growing strawberries, Herbert plans to expand their operation by adding value added products as a primary income driver. With a goal of producing 2,500 jars of strawberry jam, the project will support an aggressive market strategy to target various real, online, wholesale, and novelty buyers. The expanded shelf life of jam will help Herbert grow their farm’s business model beyond the traditional fresh market berry season.
Browntown Farms was purchased in 1908 and operated as a Southside VA tobacco farm before transitioning into a fruit and vegetable operation. We currently offer spring, summer and fall produce. We believe that every person should know their farmer so they can know their food.
Joseph Bivens – D and B Farms, Rose Hill, NC
In order to start their growing season earlier and extend through the winter, Joseph will build a bio-intensive, four-season greenhouse. He plans to grow cucumber, tomatoes, and microgreens in the greenhouse as well as growing starter plants that can be a source of income early in the spring. Joseph will start out by selling directly to individuals but hopes to expand to farmers markets in the future.
Joseph Bivens an Army Veteran who graduated from the University of Mount Olive with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management. I started out with one cow and now I have ten. I was raised in the city for a portion of my life and never saw myself as a farmer. But it has been a great experience. I am looking forward to expanding my farm by providing a diverse crop by being a proud owner of a greenhouse.
Joy Lindsay – Carolina Sun Group, Oxford, NC
Joy’s aquaculture production already includes catfish and tilapia. To add another stream of income to the farm she will retrofit existing farm equipment and infrastructure from previous dairy production to create a prawn production facility. She will also develop a system for using waste and wastewater from the aquaculture production and converting it into fertilizer and pesticide; reducing their operating costs on the farm.
I like to call myself a city girl gone country. Prior to farming I was an educator for over 10 years. Although I grew up miles away from the farm I put the city life behind me and in 2018 I sold my possessions and moved into a 127 foot tiny home on a farm. Since then I have learned to live and maintain land while homeschooling my three children. I am honored to say that farming is our way of life.
Julius H.B. Griffin – Jewels of Health, Louisburg, NC
Julius has identified ginger production as a crop that will provide maximum profit for his farm and will help support the ability to grow other crops. This project will support phase one of the ginger production through the construction of a greenhouse as a safe, efficient, and cost effective environment for growing ginger. Julius plans to sell the ginger through local restaurants, grocery stores, and the farm’s open air market.
Julius Griffin is a 36 year old Native-African-American Farmer. Growing up the third of four boys, he enjoyed being outside playing in the dirt and he remembers his Mother having a garden and canning tomatoes on hot summer days. He also worked in his Grandma’s garden planting flowers and bulbs. These are just a few of the things that have directed him to his present Life Path. Julius lives on 170 acres of farmland purchased by his parents in the late 90’s, not knowing at the time that they were purchasing the farm that his Maternal Great Grandfather worked and farmed in the early 1900’s for Louisburg College. Julius grew three acres of Industrial Hemp last year and is now focused on producing fresh, organically grown produce this year along with Industrial Hemp, cut flowers, and farm produced honey.
Keithrick Alexander – Axiom Farms Cooperative, Columbia, SC
Axiom Farm Cooperative is an agricultural marketing cooperative of farmers and businesses that currently provides online grocery services making local produce accessible and affordable. The funding will help support the purchase of a refrigerated truck that will be used to expand their distribution models so more community members can access online grocery sales.
Axiom Farms Cooperative is an agricultural marketing cooperative designed for farmers and the communities they serve. We strive to make education, equipment and products available for farmers and consumers. We are a cooperative of farmers and businesses that work together to bring consumers quality products and services, while also providing education on products to retail businesses and consumers, and education/training for our farmers.
Kendrick Ransome – Golden Organic Farm, Pinetops, NC
Funding for this project will support the improvement of 50-year old cold storage infrastructure. With new deep freezers, Kendrick will be able to extend the life of processed meat and perishable products.
Golden Organic Farm is a family farm operated by 4th generation farmer, Kendrick Ransome. Mr. Ransome is a beginning farmer in Edgecombe County where he raises livestock, traditional row crops and also teaches the youth in his community sustainable agriculture. We are currently marketing our produce through a CSA model produce as well as selling to local restaurants and local farmer markets. Advocating for justice and equity in local, regional and national food systems is a top mission.
Larry Davis – Davis Farms Sandy Creek LLC, Henderson, NC
Larry’s project will allow him to incorporate rotational grazing practices into his pork production. He currently has a shelter for his pigs and a nearby, ungrazed field of high quality fescue grass. Larry will fence in new paddock area that will allow him to maximize his available space and increase the number of pigs he can raise. Rotational grazing will also ensure a healthier pig and stable living environment for the pigs.
Our farm has been in the Davis family for approximately 100 years. Our family has been in the Largo/Afton community of Warren County since the late 18th century. Since 2014 we have been growing vegetable produce of all kinds, producing hay for livestock farmers in the area and raising pigs through our processing house in Asheboro, Piedmont Processing.
Luciano Alvarado – Alvarado Blueberry Farms, Fayetteville, NC
After a repeated 3 years of frost damage to his blueberry plants, Luciano will purchase 600 cold-resistant blueberry varieties for planting this fall. The setting plants will be 2 or 3 years old which will guarantee blueberry production for next season and provide job opportunities to community members. Luciano will be able to use cuttings from the new plants to continue to grow his blueberry operation.
Mario Villamil Delgado – Louisburg, NC
Mario plans to expand his organic vegetable and flower production currently managed on two acres by constructing a high tunnel. The high tunnel will allow for season extension so Mario can sell niche products all year long. As a well established vendor at the Durham Farmers Market he knows this expansion will help meet customer demand.
My heritage is agriculture…from the mountains of southern Mexico to now in Louisburg, NC. Vegetable production is what I am passionate about and seeing my customers enjoy my healthy, locally grown food is important to me. With this grant, I plan to expand my offerings of fresh food to my regional customers.
Michael Carter Jr – Carter Farms, Unionville, VA
Carter Farms desires to be a living, hands on interactive teaching tool for African Americans and others to regain an interest in the fields of agriculture and environmental science and preservation. With project funds, Michael will construct an Africulture Sacred Sojourn Tour that features educational displays and culturally-relevant trees and plants that highlight African and African American’s contributions to agriculture.
Carter Farms is a century farm in the Piedmont region of Virginia that specializes in growing ethnic, African tropical vegetables organically. Michael Carter Jr. has taken over the family farm operation, converting it from a beef cattle, swine and hay production operation to an ethnic vegetable afrotourism teaching farm that shares its Africulture interdisciplinary platform.
Millard Locklear – New Ground Farm, Pembroke, NC
Millard is moving their farm’s operation from the production of a few vegetable crops for predominantly wholesale markets to a diverse vegetable production strategy sold through direct markets and CSAs. By adding caterpillar tunnels to the farm, Millard plans to grow popular vegetables year-round so he can sell them when they’re both in season and out of season.
New Ground Farm LLC is operated by a fifth generation farm family. We are working every day to improve the soil and our knowledge on how to grow more vegetables by maintaining a sustainable ecological balance. The farm offers a wide variety of fruits and vegetables along with culinary and medicinal herbs. It is all grown locally on 26 acres of irrigated land by Millard and Connie Locklear. Their produce is available at a stand on the farm site on Alvin Road, at local Farmer’s Market, and through community supported agriculture.
Monisha Renee Brooks – Grow Green Acres LLC, Nakina, NC
One of Monisha’s greatest limitations to farming at the moment is water access for her vegetables and melons. The project will support a water management system for the farm through a combination of an on-farm well and drip irrigation system.
Monisha Brooks is the owner of Grow Green Acres. She is a fifth generation farmer, who started a produce farm on land that was farmed by her family for more than 100 years. Her fore parents were tobacco farmers in the rural south, and like a lot of other rural family owned farms, they decided to leave the tobacco farming industry after the decline in the market, and didn’t transition over to any other crops. So Monisha decided to make the transition to the healthy, “farm fresh”, “sustainable living” production on her family’s farm land. Her hope is to create a “farming spark” that will flame throughout the coming generations.
Reginald Cotten – Greenleaf Farms at Halifax County Schools, Halifax, NC
Although Greenleaf Farm owns several pieces of farm equipment for the production of their produce, they currently have nowhere to store the equipment out of the sun, rain, and elements. This puts the longevity of their equipment at risk. With grant funding, Reginald will build a shelter area using upcycled utility poles to safely store equipment. The space will also be used to bundle harvested produce and keep it out of the rain and sun before deliveries.
Reginald Cotten is the product of a family farm in Oak City N.C. He attended North Carolina A&T State University and received the B.S. and M.S. in Agriculture. The grant recipient also attended East Carolina University and received a license for school Administration and Supervision. Reginald has spent the last thirty three years with Halifax County Schools and is currently Farm Manager for Greenleaf Farm–Halifax County Schools. He is the supervisor of fifteen high school students of agriculture who operate the schools GAP Certified farm produce operation.
Ronara Swain – Swain’s Farm, Colerain, NC
Ronara plans to convert a currently unusable field on his farm to a pasture for pork production. With the additional space he will be able to increase the number of hogs raised from the few he currently has. The project funding will help cover the housing, fencing, and feeders necessary to make this transition. Ronara will sell the finished hogs directly to customers and also work with a local store to expanding into the retail market.
Ronara Swain farms in Bertie county North Carolina. He started the Swain Farms in 2007 on five acres of family land. Ronara now farms 497 acres of land producing corn, soybeans, wheat, peanuts, collards, cabbage and salad greens.
Ryan Bethea – Oysters Carolina, New Bern, NC
Ryan currently delivers oysters directly to homes, several NC businesses, and catered special events. With a refrigerated truck he plans to expand his available menu to add shrimp, scallops, crabs, clams, and fin fish. A truck will exponentially increase his current cooling capacity and allow him to more efficiently provide special event catering services by storing all necessary supplies in one space. Ryan will also update his website and online ordering process for a more efficient, streamlined system.
Born and raised in Durham and currently residing across North Carolina, Bethea is a graduate of North Carolina Central University with a degree in geography. After graduating with honors, he was one of four candidates selected to the prestigious oyster genetics program at William and Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science.
Stanley Hughes – Pine Knot Farms, Hurdle Mills, NC
With the project funding, Stanley will build a facility to cure and store his organic sweet potatoes. This facility will minimize spoilage and allow him to extend his sales season which will lead to increased income. Over the last few years, Stanley has seen there’s unmet demand for fresh produce in food deserts. He will focus his marketing efforts on customers located in food deserts.
Stanley is a 3rd generation farmer growing tobacco and sweet potatoes in Hurdle Mills, NC. Pine Knot Farms was the first Black-owned farm in the state to be certified organic in 1996. Stanley won North Carolina A&T’s Small Farmer of Year award in 2004 and Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s Farmers of the Year award in 2013.
Stephanie Vinat – The AppaLatin Farmstead, Marshall, NC
Stephanie noticed that many of the typical Latin sauces and spices found at grocery stores are made with preservatives or unnatural ingredients. With the Latin American community suffering from an increasing rate of diabetes, Stephanie plans to produce naturally grown Latin sauces and spices, not only as an exciting new enterprise for her farm, but also to fight for food justice. Stephanie will expand her sauce and spice line, AppaLatin, through classes, farmers market sales, and enhanced value-added processing practices.
Stephanie Vinat is the Owner-Operator of The AppaLatin Farmstead. We are a farm and homestead located in the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina practicing permaculture and regenerative agriculture. We grow nutritious fruit and vegetables, including a variety of Latin peppers for our sauces.
Thomas L Savage Jr – Allied Organic Farms, Hurdle Mills, NC
For the last four years, Thomas has grown three specialized crops: fluted pumpkin, water leaves, and eggplant. Through acquiring knowledge on how to grow and market these vegetables, he’s seen very high demand and has been able to expand production. However, groundhogs and deer consistently put his vegetables at risk. The project will support the construction of deer fencing to protect his specialty crops from pests.
We are a small family owned farm, growing mainly vegetables for sale at our farm and the local farmers markets. Our motto and goal is to grow “Healthy Foods for Healthy Living”. All crops are grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. Crop rotations and cover crops are used to maintain soil health. Our aim is to be an asset to our environment and those around us. We also grow specialty crops to meet the demand of our ethnic community, as well as, we host other community oriented events, as an ‘Agritourism’ farm.
Timmy Butler – Butler Family Farms, Clinton, NC
For the past two years, Timmy has grown organic soybeans on contract. While this is a major income source for the farm, no nearby mills are able to accept his organic soybeans. The nearest mill is three hours away which makes transportation a barrier. The grant will support the purchase of a transport trailer so Timmy can bring his product to market.
Butler Family Farm is a NC Century farm, over 100 years in operation.(1909). We are GAP certified and organic certified. We have 65 acres and 40 acres cropland. We grow soybeans, watermelons, tomatoes, kale, turnips and collards. We are ten brothers and sisters now operating the farm as 3rd generation farmers.
Wilbert A Jeffries – Jeffries Farm, Reidsville, NC
Wilbert will retrofit an existing truck to store more fresh vegetables and meat. The freezer will be replaced with a coolbot to keep vegetables at an ideal temperature for outdoor markets. Wilbert will install two horizontal freezers in the truck to store meats. The retrofitted truck with various cold storage options will also open up new market opportunities for the farm.
Jeffries Farm is a sustainable farm that embraces diversity. Our purpose is to grow and sell locally to help keep our produce fresh for our customers.