Randy from T5 Farms didn’t start off as a farmer, or even liking the idea of farming. He was a civil engineer just looking to get some chickens for his kids. Middle daughter Faith recalls, “me and (my brother) Noah just wanted a few chickens and Dad said he wasn’t going to have anything to do with them!” She laughed, “and now look at him!”
So it all began with the chickens – they had some layers for eggs and some meat birds. They started selling at the Saxapahaw market, often supplementing their sales by selling to local markets as word spread about how delicious their chicken was.
When the bottom fell out of the housing market in 2008, Randy’s consulting work at his Graham firm was drying up and he started looking for something new to do. The family lived on land that had been in Randy’s family for generations, and his grandfather had farmed on it at one point, so they thought maybe they should give it a try. Helped out by neighbor Chris from Sunset Farms, they did everything naturally from the start, wanting to farm in a way that would be healthy for the land and their family.
Now they’ve gone from zero to full farm in just a few years. They have two tracts of 21 acres each, about half of which is wooded. They’ve got crops in production, along with some cows grazing on 20 acres of pasture adjacent to their land. Pasture is in such high demand around here that they’re limiting themselves to just the small number of cows that they currently have. They also have a couple of pigs that they’ve been using to clear land, which they’ve found very effective.
In the last year they’ve added a greenhouse, a high tunnel, and a pole barn, greatly increasing their capacity on the farm. This season’s abundance of strawberries has challenged their capacity already, and they’re realizing that they need a cooler for the berries. “It’s always something,” says Randy. I don’t so much have a ‘to do’ list as I have a ‘what needs to be done today’ list.”
But at least he’s lucky enough to have help from the whole family. Their oldest daughter is in school at NC State, but their son Noah sells at the Burlington market at daughter Faith helps out in Chapel Hill. Everyone helps out in the fields, including some of the kids’ friends, who have been called on most recently to come help pick berries.
While they still sell their chicken to The Eddy in Saxapahaw and Vimala’s Curryblossom Café in Chapel Hill, anything they have left over after markets on Saturdays goes to a restaurant close to them, the Ye Olde Country Kitchen. But if you can get to one of their markets before everything is gone you’re sure to be treated to some delicious food!