From classroom to farm is rewarding
Mary Carroll and Griffin Dodd are saving the old family farm with a new organic one. They are farming the land of Mary Carroll’s grandfather, John Alexander. Their farm is Red Scout Farm (redscoutfarm.com).
Mary Carroll and Griffin are not farmers by birth, but they are by choice. Both have teaching backgrounds. Currently Mary Carroll teaches at Black Mountain Yoga, and Griffin teaches math part-time at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. The rest of their time is spent reviving some of the land in the North Fork area upon which John Alexander grew vegetables for many years. He passed in 2000 at the age of 85 years.
“When I was growing up, I visited my grandfather often. And my favorite thing to do on the farm,” Mary Carroll said, “was dig potatoes. I feel very connected to my grandfather as we work to revive his land.”
She, her husband and their 2-year-old son Xander moved to the land in July 2015 to have an organic farm. In this, their first season, they are growing for the Black Mountain Tailgate Market and a few area restaurants. They are cultivating an acre with a wide variety of vegetables.
Black Mountain has long been a destination for Mary Carroll and Griffin - they used to meet here when they were dating, Griffin from Boone and Mary Carroll from Charlotte. They got married five years ago at Camp Rockmont.
On their sloped garden carved out of the woods, they are growing five different kinds of kale, three different kinds of Swiss chard, some Asian greens, and seven different kinds of lettuce. They have a variety of carrots, peppers, squash, beans, peas and tomatoes, as well as French breakfast radishes. They’ve planted seven different kinds of blueberry bushes. They use companion planting and flowers to attract insects rather than have them feast on the vegetables.
“This farm has been a mutual dream of ours for several years,” Griffin said. “It really feels good to sink my hands in the soil and be able to feel that dream coming true. The dream is now tangible. I can actually touch what we have been talking about for several years. I enjoy the labor part of the farm while Mary Carroll is very good with organizing and planning.”
A 1971 International Red Scout truck that Mary Carroll remembers bouncing around in on her grandfather’s farm came with the land. It’s still on the property, “and it still runs sometimes,” Mary Carroll said. It’s why the farm is called Red Scout Farm.
The Dodds are happy that Xander is growing up on a farm. “We feel privileged to give him the experience of farm life,” Griffin said. “What he chooses to do with his experiences is up to him.”
The Dodds spent last winter taking courses at the Organic Growers School at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. “We learned not just about growing vegetables, but how to market what we grow,” Mary Carroll said.
“We have had a lot of advice from other organic area farmers,” Griffin said. “They have made us feel welcome and a part of the organic farming community.
“We feel so lucky to be in the area with so many organic farmers,” Mary Carroll said.
The Dodds can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.