Rhubarb and goats: You’ll find that and much more at new Davie farm
Published 9:23 am Thursday, March 31, 2022
By Mike Barnhardt
The goats are friendly at Cedar House Farms of Mocksville.
They’re also cute and inquisitive.
So why not relax and let them walk all over you?
You can do just that next month at the farm off Godbey Road west of town when classes of goat yoga are held for children and adults.
And buy some fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers, eggs, goat’s milk, soap and more while you’re there. Matt and Jenn Collins are building what they hope will be a profitable certified, naturally grown farm.
They’ve been in Davie County since January of 2021, and quickly transformed their 18 acres into row after row of vegetables, flowers and fruits. And there’s ducks, forested hogs, a miniature horse, cows … and more.
The daily chores that go with running such a farm come natural to Jenn Collins, who grew up on a self-sufficient homestead in Alaska. She earned a master’s degree in business administration and worked as a regional manager in the pharmaceutical industry.
Then her daugher Avaline was born. She had Cerebral Palsey.
Jenn quit her job and became a stay-at-home mom.
Yeah, right. She’s not your typical stay-at-home mom.
That stay-at-home mom also had a similar farm in Newton before they moved to Davie County.
“I needed something we could do together,” she said, pointing out the chair in the UTV so Avaline can ride around the farm. She also wanted to be sure that her children – they are foster parents, too – had only the freshest and best things to eat. That’s another reason the farm is all natural, her children also drink water from the well.
Jenn said it’s about five times more expensive to operate such a farm naturally, or organically.
“But I wanted to do something with my little girl that was also healthy. I’m not much for sitting around,” she said.
There’s no time for sitting around.
She breeds American Alpine goats, and milks the goats every day. She bottle feeds every baby.
From February-October, she’s harvesting fruits and vegetables at least three days a week, selling to restaurants and at the Cobblestone Farmers Market in Winston-Salem every Saturday morning. She will open a market at the farm soon, check the website or Facebook for hours.
There are some 7,000 rhubarb plants growing at Cedar House Farms. You read that right – 7,000. She sells at the market, to bakeries, a few chefs and is working on getting it into local grocery stores. She says it is a wonderful vegetable that freezes well.
“We may have the largest rhubarb farm in North Carolina,” she said. “It goes great with strawberries.”
The rhubarb at Cedar House is grown from seed, with crowns then planted in the fall, and harvested from mid-April through May. When the rhubarb comes up, zuchinni is planted in its place.
The same goes with the lettuce, peas, kales and other spring crops. When they’re harvested, they’ll be replaced with the likes of tomatoes, cucumbers, canteloupes, watermelons and other warm weather crops.
Vegetable and fruits grown include: beets, broccoli, cabbage, canteloupes, carrots, cauliflower, collards cucumbers, green beans, three kinds of kale, leaf lettuce, onions, peppers, pumpkins, radishes, spring onions, summer squash, sweet corn, sugar snap peas (One of the most popular at the Cobblestone market.), sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, watermelons, winter squash, zuchinni. We’ve probably missed a few.
Her husband growns shiitake mushrooms.
And there 300 blackberry and 150 blueberry plants.
“We believe this is important so that you can eat exciting varieties of food that can’t be purchased at a super market that caters only to shelf life and cares little for flavor. We pick our vegetables and melons when they are packed with flavor so you get the very best.”
Jenn said she’s learned lessons growing things over the years, while her family may like it, it also has to sell.
And Mother Nature can be fickle.
Last year, she lost 1,000 tomato plants to a late freeze. This year, she’s growing some in bags for early tomatoes, and will wait until later before putting the majority of the plants outdoors.
Cedar House grows more than 70 varieties of vegetables and fruits. They’re also into the fresh flower market, with more just as many varieties of flowers as vegetables.
She grows woody plants to be added to flower arrangements, such as pussy willow and curly willow. Starting in April, she’s offering floral arranging classes every Thursday.
“We do not use genetically modified seeds or spray synthetic chemicals for pesticides. Our Certified Naturally Grown status is based on using the highest standard of organic productin and soil and land conservation techniques.”
Cedar House hopes to expand even more. They’ve leased land across Godbey Road, but the cost of drilling a well is too expensive. They had planned to build a large barn, but construction costs are through the roof.
The farm welcomes visitors, just let them know you’re coming. There are programs and tours for small groups of people, all must be booked in advance. They offer unicorn-themed birthday parties, with a miniature horse dressed as a unicorn and a small petting zoo or chance for animal interactions.
And there’s Avaline’s Gift. Any child with a special need is given a unicorn-themed party for free. Again, call in advance.
And about that goat yoga.
“I have 23 baby goats ready to play,” she said. “They are very curious animals. They’re my favorite animal, very, very sweet,” she said. “We’ll have certified yoga instructors. I’ve heard it’s mostly giggling … with meditation and yoga.”
Visit cedarhousefarms.com to learn more, book and outing or to register for an upcoming event. Notices will be posted there about dates and time of the market opening at the farm.