Farmer Feature: Singing Spring Farm

January 25, 2022

When husband-and-wife farmers Adam Taylor and Elizabeth Spellman were looking for farmland, access to a spring was a priority. Having lived in coal country in West Virginia, they lacked access to drinkable water and drove an hour one-way to fill-up and stockpile spring water. “We love spring water,” the pair effuse. “It’s the best you can drink.”

It was springtime when they toured the land in the Sinking Creek Valley, and Adam and Elizabeth discovered a vibrant water source and lush landscape punctuated with wild blue vervain and rich limestone topography. “The spring might’ve sealed the deal,” Adam says, only half-joking.

When Adam and Elizabeth moved from Fayetteville, West Virginia to Simmonsville, Virginia they set up Singing Spring Farm as a “whole diet farm,” which means that it’s a one-stop-shop for omnivores, offering grains, dairy, eggs, meat, fruits, and vegetables. They employ organic practices (though they’re not certified), so they don’t use any fertilizers or chemicals of any kind. Chickens, both egg-laying and pasture-raised meat poultry, run through the gardens and orchard, adding nutrients to crops. There are goats too, including dairy goats and meat goats, and sheep, lambs raised for meat and wool sheep, both Icelandics and merinos, whose sheared wool is spun into yarn. The diverse garden harvests include lettuce, tomatoes, beets, peppers, squash, and asparagus, and a plethora of fruit including melons (their favorite), berries, and the next few years should bring apples, pears, strawberries, plums, peaches, and Asian pears.

Elizabeth and Adam are especially excited by plants with a story behind them, which explains why they’re drawn to heirloom varieties. At Singing Spring Farm, they grow two types of cornmeal, including Bloody Butcher, a Cherokee variety native to the region, and Hickory Cane, a variety that hails from southern Georgia and boasts bigger kernels than white corn, and a slightly sweeter—though not as complex—flavor profile than that of Bloody Butcher.

Next, Elizabeth and Adam hope to collaborate with their neighbors to propagate and graft native varietals of apples and beans. To continue Adam’s family farming legacy—his grandparents were homesteaders, and his uncle owned a beef cattle farm where he frequently worked—Adam and Elizabeth will propagate and plant the Ball bean, a variety of bush bean that Adam’s mom’s side of the family has grown for generations. Jack Bostic, a neighbor, has an orchard of 200 fruit trees that the couple has collected scion wood from for grafting and sharing.

Speed Round:

What products are you most known for?
: Goat products. We’re one of the few people with goat meat, which is a weird thing to most Americans even though it’s the most popular meat in the world. We also offer feta, chevre, kefir, and raw milk.

What is the most underrated vegetable?
: The candy roaster squash. It’s super productive—we planted one seed pack and got 2,000 pounds. It’s this huge, banana-looking orange thing that weights between 12 and 15 pounds on average. It tastes like butternut squash on steroids, with a better seed-to-meat ratio so its meatier and not as watery.

What vegetable are you most excited to plant?
: Different heirloom apple varieties. Thinking about all the possibilities with that, to share it forward and have people graft off of our trees one day. There are some really amazing old orchards up here and we want to keep that going. We may do a grafting workshop at the Catawba Sustainability Center.

Favorite part of selling at farmers markets?
: We love getting to know the other vendors and customers; it’s fun, hang out time. We didn’t get to sell last year—we moved everything to the CSA—but we’re excited to be back this year.

Go-to item you shop for from other vendors at farmers markets?
: We love Lexi’s soap from Wingstem Farm. We exclusively use their soap.

One thing you wish more people knew about your farm.
: How our farm can support land access opportunities for people. One of our friends is living in a tiny house we have; he grows mushrooms. One couple running a farm business with other farm income is the most sustainable [model], and even better is a group of farmers sharing land and working together.

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