Meet your growers - Harvest Moon Garden
Harvest Moon Garden: warm and fuzzy this winter!
John and Susannah Carter are proud to claim Harvest Moon Garden as their own. Like many small growers, they have long had a dream of starting their own farm. This vision led to a purchase of farm land, and now the Carters are working full time trying to make a living off their "old-school" farming.
With Susannah’s teaching degree and John’s degree in visual arts and photography, the two seem like an unlikely couple to take on a farmer’s life. Susannah gave up her teaching job to support John’s passion, however, and their enthusiasm grew—along with their knowledge and experience.
They began growing organically for themselves, but soon started selling their crops at their local Wilkes County Farmers Market, and quickly expanded into Athens during the market's first year: 2007. Susannah credits John as the growing expert, while she picks, markets, packages and delivers their crops.
Each year, Susannah attends the Southeastern Animal and Fiber Festival in Asheville, NC. It was here where she saw other growers raising livestock in addition to crops. Her fearless attitude led her to the conclusion that, “I can do that!” And so a new passion developed.
They now have a collection of 10 sheep, including Blue faced Leiceister, Corriedale, Finn and Shetland breeds. Along with their beloved sheep, the Carter’s have picked up another addition to their farm: Minnie Moo-Moo. Minnie is a milk cow, and thinks of herself as the leader of the sheep.
Susannah has fallen in love with the sheep, and learned to hand spin wool. She also uses natural dyes to color the spun wool. The sheep have opened up a new demand and market for Harvest Moon Garden. While their current production suits the demand of Athens, Augusta and Wilkes County, they would like to expand.
They work hard at growing organically, leaving technology behind. In the past three years, they have been enriching their land and adding hoop houses (greenhouses with a plastic roof wrapped over flexible piping).
The Carters continue to make small improvements on their farm, and hope to one day be able to start experimenting with solar heating and electric power. For today, they just want to get off to a good start next season and stay on top of everything. As Susannah puts it, “The first words out of any true farmer's mouth are, “Next year..." We are looking forward to growing even better than before.”
The Caters invite everyone to come out to the market, especially the additional dates in December, and buy some wool to knit holiday scarves and hats.
Susannah’s favorite fall food is sweet potato bread; below is her no-longer secret recipe, so go by and pick up a few sweet potatoes, too!
Sweet Potato Bread
1 3/4 c. self-rising flour
1 1/2c. sugar
1 c mashed, cooked sweet potato
1/2 t. cloves
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 c. sunflower oil (scant)
1/4 c. milk (scant)
Sift flour with dry ingredients. Mix all the rest in. Pour into greased and floured loaf pan or cupcake paper liners. For a loaf, bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a butter knife comes out clean; for cupcakes, bake about 20- 25 minutes. Enjoy!
by Carly Nash - AFM Public Relations