Our Gratitude for our Farm Partners
It’s impossible to overstate the imprint that our principal farmer, James Edwards, has had on Raleigh City Farm. To put it simply, Raleigh City Farm wouldn’t have become Raleigh City Farm without James. So many of the structures you can find standing on our site today are James’s handiwork, from the water cisterns, to the farm stage, to the shed, among other significant features. James’s involvement with RCF began before he even lived in Raleigh, when he’d travel from his home in Albemarle, NC to help his childhood friend, then-CEO Chris Rumbley, build a new urban farm. James moved to the capital city permanently in 2014 and since then has held various roles at RCF, making use of his skills as a carpenter, chef, and farmer. He’s delivered vegetables to restaurants, worked closely with chefs looking to purchase ingredients through RCF, and staged cooking demos at weekly CSA pickups. In 2016 James became principal farmer at Raleigh City Farm, where he grows diversified produce sustainably and sells to area restaurants and direct to you and me. I, for one, put James’s vegetables on my dinner table almost nightly.
One of the most important aspects of our mission at Raleigh City Farm is to support new farm entrepreneurs as their businesses take root and gain traction in the community. When we met James Edwards he was a guy who loved farming. When he wraps up his official affiliation with RCF later this year, he’ll depart having firmly established himself as Farmer James. We couldn’t be happier for him and all he has accomplished in his time with us, and we are forever grateful for all he has done for our organization. As he moves forward with his career, we can’t wait to see what new and exciting adventures he’ll add to his story.
We also recently said goodbye to our other longtime farm partners, Matt Spitzer and Chase Werner, formerly of Endless Sun Farms. Endless Sun occupied the hydroponic greenhouse at the north end of RCF, where they grew lettuce, microgreens, and basil. As their business grew, they expanded into more greenhouses in Durham, adding tomatoes as well as another new crop: hemp. Excited about the promise of hemp as a medicinal therapy for consumers and as a lucrative crop for NC farmers, Matt and Chase founded Triangle Hemp, a hemp nursery, in 2017. They sold Endless Sun earlier this year so that they could devote their full attention to their hemp business, selling hemp plants to farmers for whom they also serve as a resource on best growing practices. (We recently profiled Triangle Hemp – read about it on our blog here.)
At RCF, we loved walking into the Endless Sun greenhouse and inhaling the thick smell of basil, but more than that we’ve loved watching Matt and Chase grow and develop as farm entrepreneurs. They are driven and knowledgeable, and they dive into whatever they do with passion and confidence. Above all, they are nice guys and we’ve loved being part of their journey. Their latest venture into the hemp business is an exciting new chapter for these two, and we wish them all the best.
And now, we have someone we’d really like to introduce you to. Please meet our newest farm partner at RCF, David McConnell, principal and head grower for Infinity Hundred Farms. We are thrilled to welcome David to our site, not just because, well, we like David, but because he brings the same level of passion for his work—growing good food sustainably—that we’ve come to associate with all farm partners, past and present, at RCF. We know David will fit right in.
David now operates the hydroponic greenhouse at RCF where Endless Sun got their start, in addition to other sites throughout downtown Raleigh, where he incorporates farm practices based on permaculture and biodynamics, without the use of pesticides and herbicides. Totaling over 30 acres, Infinity Hundred Farms is one of the largest urban farms in the U.S., but still relies on low-tech growing methods. David is currently completing a degree in social sciences and writing a book. In addition to farming full-time, he is a father, artist, record producer, and furniture designer. If you see him around, we hope you’ll say hello.
As Raleigh City Farm grows and evolves, one thing never changes: our commitment to engaging the community in a healthy and sustainable food system that can only exist when local farmers thrive. We forge new partnerships along the way and make lasting friendships and connections. For all those who have worked alongside us, we thank you. For those just joining us, we say, “welcome.” We’re glad you’re here.
Speaking of new partnerships, we have an opening for a new farm partner (or perhaps partners) to join our 1-acre site. Click here to view our Farm Partnership Opening with all the details including how to apply!