The following was published in The Floyd Press on May 15, 2008.
The rain didn’t deter garden lovers from participating in the Mother’s Day Farm Tour at Full Circle and Five Penny Farms in Floyd this past Sunday. Traffic up and down the long dirt driveway into Full Circle Farm for the open house event was steady in spite of weather.
The Farm Tour, now in its 4th year, has been growing in attendance each year. “We had about two hundred visitors last year,” said Tenley Weaver (pictured in blue shirt and boots). Weaver runs the certified organic farm off Spangler Mill Road with her partner, Dennis Dove. “I grow the flowers and herbs and Dennis does the vegetables,” she said.
It seems that flowers and garden greenery go hand in hand with Mother’s Day. One family shopping for plants traveled up to Floyd from Roanoke after meeting Dove recently at the Roanoke Natural Food Store and hearing about the Farm Tour from him. Enjoying their Mother’s Day outing, the family was purchasing plant seedlings for their garden. “We’re trying to go organic,” the mother said.
Weaver and Dove are not only full-time market growers; they operate Good Food-Good People, a local fresh produce distributing network. “It’s a private cooperative business,” Weaver said. “We represent twenty-five to thirty growers from the backyard farmer to bigger farms. We wholesale to restaurants in Blacksburg, Roanoke, the New River Valley, on the Parkway, and to health food stores,” she explained.
The Full Circle Farm Tour featured several large greenhouses filled with flowers, herbs, and vegetables starts. Booth displays of local products overlooked rows of growing greens and included those from Weathertop Farms, Brights Farm and Chef Natasha Shishkevish. A horse pull activity was canceled because of the rain, but Abe Goorsky played fiddle in the early part of the day, Weaver reported.
Pointing out pots of pineapple and tangerine sage, Weaver broke a leaf off from one of the plants to release its aroma. “It’s not like turkey sage,” she said. “It’s used for culinary purposes and it makes a nice tea,” she added. Everything grown on the Full Circle Farm is edible, even the flowers. There were pansies, nasturtiums, snap dragons, and calendula.
“My goal is to grow every culinary herb that any chef could want,” Weaver said. She also runs Greens Garage, which provides local products to the neighborhood and to word-of-mouth traffic. The Garage, described by Weaver as “a farm stand and more,” is open year-round and sells fresh organic and biologically-grown vegetables, local free range and grass fed beef and pork, local honey, fresh eggs, regional cheeses, and more.
When asked if there’s ever a lull in the farm work, Weaver said, “It never slows down.” In the winter months she focuses on sales and marketing, and “lots of meetings” to coordinate with GFGP members who will be growing what in the upcoming year.
The sun broke out in the afternoon. At Five Penny Farm on Thomas Farm Road, two musicians performed on the deck of the wooden building that will soon house “The Shooting Creek Brewery.” The Brewery, on the Blue Ridge Wine Trail, has a planned grand opening in June, said farm owner Johanna Nichols. The farm, now in its fourth year of operation, is certified organic.
Children played on the grounds, a dog stretched out on the grass, and shoppers mulled through the hanging baskets of flowers and trays of leafy green farm grown plants. Some of the Farm Tour goers strolled up and down the rows of growing hop plants. The plants, prickly vines climbing up a string pole fence, will be used in special seasonal brews, Five Penny co-owner Brett Nichols said. ~ Colleen Redman
Note: The first two photos were taken at Full Circle Farm and the second two at Five Penny Farm. The above was first published on Loose Leaf Notes on May 12, 2008.