Good Hope Farm: Creating Accessible Agriculture

Just across the street from a large luxury apartment development and less than one mile from a corner that is home to Starbucks, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut sits Cary’s Good Hope Farm. The 29-acre farm is the vestige of what was once a thriving agricultural community and is now home to an increasing number of residential and commercial developments in Cary. In fact, the Carpenter area of Cary was critical in North Carolina’s 19th and early 20th century tobacco industry, as steam engines transporting tobacco to Durham stopped in Carpenter for water before making the last leg of their trip. The Town of Cary purchased the farm in 2008 to preserve a portion of Carpenter’s agricultural past.

In 2015, a collective comprised of the Initiative, The Conservation Fund, Conservation Trust for North Carolina, and the Piedmont Conservation Council submitted a proposal to the Town of Cary for Good Hope Farm—a community farm that would provide land access to a new generation of farmers and connect the community to local agriculture. At the time, the Initiative, the Fund, and Conservation Trust for North Carolina had been working together for several years to advance common interests among the state’s community economic development and environmental communities.

Good Hope Farm welcomed its first farmers in spring 2017. Farmers receive licenses for plots of up to two acres, along with access to tractors, hand tools, a washing and packing station, and cold storage, as well as a subsidized water supply.

Farmer Meredith Cohen thins her turnip seedlings. Meredith has worked on several farms over the years, but is now able to launch her own farming business (One Soil Farm) thanks to having land access at Good Hope Farm.

Today, Good Hope is one of just three farms operating in the west side of Cary. The reason for this dwindling number of farms is perhaps best illustrated by the recent sale of a nearby 70-acre farm for $20 million—farms simply can’t compete with the prices that developers are willing to pay for land in Cary. Good Hope Farm’s approach to increasing access to farmland is working for the six farming businesses currently operating at the farm. These businesses, which produce everything from turmeric to berries to cut flowers, also receive assistance in getting access to markets: some sell to local restaurants, others wholesale, and one is a direct supplier to the owner’s farm-to-table restaurant.

Erin Crouse, The Conservation Fund’s representative on this collaborative project, describes what makes Good Hope so special: “We’re the next step. There are plenty of training programs for those wanting to move into farming, but Good Hope gives them a place to actually farm.”

The bounty of Good Hope will soon be more readily available to Cary residents, as the farm plans to open a farm stand this month and will be offering a CSA (community supported agriculture) for Town of Cary employees, providing scholarships to those who might not have the financial means to purchase a CSA.

Click here to learn more about the Community Economic Development/Conservation Collaboration that served as the impetus for Good Hope Farm.

 

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