After graduating in 2011 from UNC Chapel Hill, I spent a year living and working on a family farm in nearby Hillsborough. I experienced the edible seasons this bioregion has to offer as well as the realities of farm life: daily chores to keep animals healthy and happy; long hours in the fields building the soil, planting, weeding, and harvesting a variety of crops; late Friday nights processing chickens and early Saturday mornings preparing for markets. The reward for this hard work: hot coffee and thankful eaters ready to devour the precious fruits of that labor.
One warm January afternoon, rows of produce left drenched and nearly frozen overnight find a sunny day’s worth of respite. Blooms of collard greens adjacent to a wide, one-level house in Roxboro gradually plump their leaves up toward the sun’s rays.
This home and land belong to farmer Mark Paylor and his extended family. And on this warm winter Sunday afternoon, greens harvested just before the frost now simmer gently on a stove. Supper is a few hours away, but the Paylor family has already begun to gather at Grandma Paylor’s home.