By BRWIA staff intern, Leah Jalfon
Sullivan introduced us to the chickens, grazing happily, protected by their movable fence and the creek that surrounds Faith Mountain. We heard about the diverse array of crops in the garden, from horseradish to blueberries and sunflowers. Walking back toward the house, we stopped in front of two boxes under a tree. The boxes held movable frames filled with bees. I asked Sullivan why these two particular boxes were separated from the long line near the driveway; he explained to me that these colonies were called “nukes,” meaning that they were split from another hive to create a new hive. He also explained the processes of catching swarms and integrating queens. For the rest of the day, Sullivan continued to teach me so many things I didn’t know before visiting Faith Mountain.
Finally, James’ daughter Margaret emerged from the house to introduce herself. I had to meet whoever was behind the amazing smells wafting from the kitchen. I asked her what she was baking today: blueberry muffins. I must have gotten too excited at the mention of muffins, because Shannon came back with a goodie bag for us filled with two blueberry muffins (still warm!), Margaret’s peanut butter chewy balls, and a bag of “Coco Loco” gluten-free granola. Margaret started with muffin mixes when she was twelve years old, but she has developed her baking skills over the years. She makes everything from bread and cinnamon rolls to truffles and wedding cakes, and she can make almost anything dairy-free or gluten-free. In the car on the way home, we devoured both muffins and all of the chewy balls; it took serious discipline to save the granola for the rest of the week. Describing them can’t do it justice; if you’re looking for something sweet, Margaret Wilkes is your go-to girl. You can find her baked goods at Faith Mountain Farm’s booth at the Watauga Farmer’s Market, Coyote Kitchen, or through the farm’s website: http://www.faithmtnfarm.com/organic-bakery.
“My business model is not to grow faster than my children. Early on, we didn’t do as much, but everyone has really grown into their roles. We couldn’t operate without them doing their part. We’re growing food, yes, but more than that, we’re growing family.”