Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dogwood Hills Farm, Weaverville, NC: Medicinal Herbs Future

Dogwood Hills Farm is locally known for its sorghum syrup and u-pick grapes, apples, blueberries, and blackberries. But in the next four to five years they plan to transition to Chinese medicinal herb growing.
Farmers Jenny and David Fridlin, Dogwood Hills Farm,
Weaverville, NC
There is a lot of demand for medicinal herbs in Weaverville, N.C., according to farmer Jenny Fridlin. Jenny is a whole body work therapist who works with local acupuncturists. She came to this 10-acre farm five years ago with her husband David a, Swedish born, retired European Chef.

Chinese medicinal herb garden at Dogwood Hills
Farm, Weaverville, NC
Jenny took me on a tour of her herb garden, located just steps away from her house, "I enclosed it to keep the chickens out," she said with a smile as she pushed the gate open. We walked past bright purple Echinacea flowers and aromatic German Chamomile.
Buckwheat and sweet potato growing side-by-side in
keeping with permaculture practices, Dogwood
Hills Farm, Weaverville, NC
They use organic growing methods on the farm. And permaculture practices in the garden. "I grow buckwheat next to sweet potatoes because the buckwheat captures phosphorous and the sweet potato captures nitrogen," she said.

Guinea Fowl chicks being raised by a chicken, Dogwood
Hills Farm, Weaverville, NC
They also have a fowl organic bug control system. Ticks were everywhere when they first arrived on the farm. But with the introduction of Guinea Fowl, the tick population went down to almost zero.
Unfortunately female Guinea fowl make terrible mothers, according to Jenny. And so all the Guinea chicks are raised by chickens.

I originally went to Dogwood Hills farm to buy sorghum cane syrup. In Florida, most of the sorghum is used for green energy fuel.

"We hand-planted and harvested it," Jenny told me, placing two jars, filled with sticky brown syrup, on an outside table. "We've been told by locals that our syrup has an old timey taste to it," she said. To get that flavor they use a horse powered machine to crush the cane. Then the juice is wood fired, by a local mill, down into a syrup.

There was no crop this year so syrup supplies were limited. Next year they hope to get at least a half-acre planted.

I didn't know what sorghum syrup was supposed to taste like but I fell in love with theirs from the first teaspoon. It had a sweet and sour flavor with a light smokiness.

To find out more about the farm you can call 828-645-6286 and leave a message.

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