Feeding the local community that we are fortunate to call our home.
Maple Spring Gardens is a family owned and operated farm in northwestern Orange County, North Carolina that has been raising and marketing produce in the Triangle area for more than 35 years. We grow a wide variety of vegetables, small fruits, culinary and medicinal herbs, and bedding plants for sale to the local community. Our produce is available at the Carrboro Farmers Market and Durham Farmers Markets throughout the season. We also sell a limited amount of produce to Weaver Street Market, our home town co-op.
Our farm is comprised of 80 acres of land, of which 15 acres are tillable and 50 are forested, providing for a diverse, and balanced farm ecosystem. Each year we grow about 7 acres of mixed vegetables, medicinal and culinary herbs, and small fruits, with the remaining tillable acreage planted to soil nourishing cover crops. All of our fields were once worn out, run down, eroded tobacco land. Through the use of organic soil building practices such as composting, cover cropping and crop rotation, we have transformed abused and neglected land into a fertile and productive farm. Improving and maintaining the health of our soil and the farm’s ecosystem is an ongoing endeavor, and one in which we feel privileged to engage.
Where good stewardship of the land and a successful farming business go hand in hand.
Our Growing Practices
I first began growing vegetables using organic methods in 1972. What began as a backyard household garden evolved into a passion and a career. Through study and practice, I became convinced that there was a better way to farm than the conventional methods I saw being advocated and practiced. I became solidly committed to demonstrating the viability of farming practices that improve, rather than deplete the soil, that encourage a diverse ecosystem on the farm which results in a system of checks and balances among insect species; and yields safe, nutritious foods while not unnecessarily exposing farm workers, consumers or the environment to toxic chemicals.
Now in our fifth decade of growing vegetables in Orange County, we use time proven techniques of crop rotation, cover cropping and the use of compost and other organic soil amendments to manage our soil fertility. We encourage beneficial insects by creating a diverse ecosystem on the farm thru growing a wide range of vegetable and herb crops, forage crops and natural borders. When necessary, we use pest control products that are approved for certified organic production and refrain from using those that are not. We use irrigation water responsibly by using primarily drip irrigation. We try, always, to work within natural systems rather than trying to overpower them.
For over 10 years, our farm was “Certified Organic” by outside agencies under the USDA organic certification program. Over the years, however, our marketing has shifted as our business has transitioned from primarily wholesale to predominantly direct market sales. Whereas certification was necessary for us when we were wholesaling the majority of our produce, now that most of our vegetables are sold directly to the people who will eat them, we have decided that the time and expense of certification are neither worthwhile nor necessary. We believe our personal connection with our customers is more valuable than the USDA seal of approval. We continue, however, to farm using the same proven practices and are constantly working to improve our land and our methods.
While we can no longer use the word “organic” in marketing our products, all of us here at the farm are as committed as ever to growing good, safe food in a manner that will continue to improve our land and preserve its agricultural value for future generations. We continue to farm with respect for the safety of our workers, our customers, and ourselves and do our best to protect the environment we all depend on. If you want to know more about our practices, we are are always glad to talk about them. You can find us at market in Durham or Carrboro, or contact us with any questions. We always welcome conversation with our customers.
Ken Dawson, Manager Maple Spring Gardens, LLC