Rest in peace, Bill Dow

December 5, 2012 at 8:50 pm Leave a comment

I learned today of the passing of Bill Dow, who had a giant influence on our amazing foodshed, and on so many farmers, chefs and food activists in and beyond our region. In his honor, we are re-publishing a post I wrote about him in April 2011 when he decided to lease small plots of his farm to the next generation. He left us way too soon, but his example has forever transformed our farming landscape. — Dee Reid

Photos by Katherine Vance

The Piedmont is paradise for small-scale farmers. We have an outstanding sustainable agricultural extension agent and a model community college program that trains and supports future farmers who want to use the best organic practices. Add to that dozens of farmer’s markets and CSA’s, several natural foods groceries, plenty of locavore restaurants, and a growing market of savvy consumers hungry for fresh local food.  The region also boasts a sustainable meat processor and soon will open a “value added” center where farmers can process and package jams, jellies, baked goods, etc. from their farm goods.

No wonder folks who want to be sustainable farmers are flocking here from all over the country. But there’s one problem — the price of  land near good markets has become too steep for many who are just getting started.

Bill Dow, one of the most experienced and respected small-scale farmers and advocates in the region, has an innovative solution.  Three decades after he helped launch the Carrboro Farmer’s Market and became North Carolina’s first certified organic farmer, Bill is ready to lease out parcels of his expertly cultivated land one year at a time to prospective farmers who can’t afford to buy their own place yet.

In exchange for a modest monthly fee, the “Growers of Ayrshire Farm” will have access to terraced plots that are ready to grow, crops that are tested, markets and relationships that are well established, and mentoring from a seasoned pro.

It’s a darn good deal for anyone trying to get started with very little risk or investment — a chance to develop a viable enterprise at one of the best farms in the area, while learning firsthand from a pioneering leader who has mentored countless new farmers and knows what it takes to succeed.

Ayrshire Farm is located on a scenic rural road in the middle of Chatham county, six miles west of Pittsboro and Central Carolina Community College’s Sustainable Agriculture Program, 20 miles south of Chapel Hill  and the famed Carrboro Farmer’s Market, and 40 miles west of Raleigh and more markets.

To learn more about Bill and Ayrshire Farm check out this  video.

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Entry filed under: Learning, Sustainable Farming, Sustainable Food. Tags: , , , , .

Healthy homework Bill Dow, the food doctor

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