I was so enjoying the car ride through Avery County that our arrival surprised me. Although it was a fair drive from Boone, what felt like moments later, we were pulling off the highway onto Peter Harding Lane. We had arrived at Trosly Farm, the homestead of Kaci and Amos Niddifer and a rare site of tradition, sustainability, and family.
We drove slowly up the Niddifers’ driveway to admire the picturesque view of their eighteenth century home against the backdrop of the pasture and the woodlands in the distance. The Niddifers greeted us and led us past the pigs and the sheep to their farm store, where they offered us freshly baked rosemary and sourdough bread, delicious duck rillette, and Kaci’s onion marmalade, for which we all wanted the recipe. After catching up, we sat down to interview Kaci about her experience as a female farmer before people started arriving for her “Brood & Hatch” workshop on raising chicks.
With such a beautiful and established operation, we were surprised to learn that Kaci and Amos did not originally plan to be farmers. They grew up in the high country, Amos about five miles away and Kaci just over the border in Tennessee, and attended Milligan College in Johnson City. Kaci majored in photography and always thought she wanted to live in the city. Kaci’s semester in Australia and Amos’s in Austria renewed their appreciation of their home in the high country, and after starting a garden on campus, they decided to acquire some land of their own.
"People now want to talk to their farmers, ask them questions, and establish relationships with them. Younger farmers like Kaci and Amos have embraced this new, direct marketing approach."
After our interview, people began arriving for the Brood & Hatch workshop. Kaci showed us the chickens, about a hundred of them now, that she and Amos raise primarily to supply to chefs in the area. Although she loves working with local chefs, Kaci wishes she could provide enough for all the people that come to the farm store and the farmer’s market to buy chicken. This demonstrates the growing demand for healthy, cruelty-free, and tasty local food, and the need for farmers that can supply it. Kaci hopes that more residents of Avery County take advantage of the area’s resources and begin farming.
The community of farmers is unique. Unlike businesses that compete with each other, farmers help each other succeed. Knowing other farmers in the area has helped Kaci identify what her community needs. She has noticed the renewed interest in farming and how that has changed its nature. People now want to talk to their farmers, ask them questions, and establish relationships with them. Younger farmers like Kaci and Amos have embraced this new, direct marketing approach. However, she sees that some farmers from older generations have had trouble with the transition, emphasizing the need for farmers to take advantage of the resources of local agriculture organizations. With Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture’s Mary Boyer Sustainable Food and Agriculture grant, Kaci and Amos were able to start building a new barn a year earlier than they had planned.
"The community of farmers is unique. Unlike businesses that compete with each other, farmers help each other succeed."
Kaci and Amos started farming because they wanted to live more sustainably and do what they love. They didn’t think they could make money from the farm, but that is what is beautiful about farmers; they don’t do it for the money, they do it because they love it. As the years have gone on, the Niddifers’ love of farming has grown so much that they both chose be full-time farmers two years ago.
I felt truly lucky to meet the Niddifers, who are not only so passionate about farming, but also love to share their passion with others. Talking about their farm dinners, Kaci tells us, “One of the most important things to Amos and I is being able to give people a place to make a connection to the land. We love doing our farm dinners because we love to cook, and we love to have people on the farm. The general lack of connection to agriculture is huge, so education is really important, but we’re just really passionate about how we live our life. We don’t want to teach people, we want to show them the pleasure of having good food and being in the sunshine and the dirt. We love to share that.”