Grant Award: $6,000
Michael and Lauren have expanded their production of field basil to keep up with customer demand. To do so they made major improvements to their growing system to better control downy mildew, protect plants from spring frosts, and increase labor efficiencies. They transitioned to growing plants on black plastic and paper mulch, using drip irrigation with a fertilizer injector to minimize splash on leaves. They also purchased an implement for their walk-behind tractor so they can make their beds efficiently.
In addition, they have installed a second cistern to capture overflow from the home’s spring, piping and drip tape. They purchased more storage racks, wash/storage bins, harvest totes, and a commercial food dehydrator so they can dry basil and sell it in the off season, deriving farm income during winter months.
Wicked Weed Brewing in Asheville is one of their main customers. In addition to basil, they grow strawberries, blueberries, elderberry, mint, lavender, pumpkin, winter squash, popcorn, garlic, potatoes and sweet potatoes. They also offer a U-pick patch for pumpkins.
Michael has found that he likes selling herbs. “They are relatively easy to maintain and harvest, sell for a good price, and allow for multiple harvests from one plant,” he said.
He and Lauren bought the Barnardsville farm in 2013, fulfilling Michael’s life-long dream of farming. They both studied agriculture in school and have pursued related professions. “Returning to farm life after parents and grandparents sold off family land is something that we both value,” Michael said.
Look up Rayburn Farms on Facebook.