Machaven Farm in Snow Camp was another Alamance County farm that received an NC AgVentures grant recently. The farm will use their grant money to update the seed house for the nursery.
Tiffanie Crisafulli-Jackson doesn’t have a farming background. Neither does her family. Until the housing market crashed in 2008, she was an interior designer with firms in Chapel Hill and Charlottesville, Virginia.
“[The 2008 housing crisis] opened my eyes to some things, including kind of the environmental impacts the furniture industry has had on places, especially North Carolina,” Crisafulli-Jackson said. “So, I wasn’t very satisfied doing that anymore, for various reasons.”
Crisafulli-Jackson ended up working for a catering company that primarily served locally, farm-raised, healthy food.
“Doing that I was able to visit a lot of farms around Charlottesville and was really inspired by what they were doing,” she said.
The job helped convince Crisafulli-Jackson, who received a degree from N.C. State’s School of Agriculture prior to getting into interior design, to consider a career in horticulture. She is currently working toward a graduate degree in horticulture with a focus on community food systems.
Around five years ago, when her husband completed his post-graduate work in Charlottesville, the family set their sights on the Burlington area, with a plan to live close “to the land in a community of farmers.” They ended up in Snow Camp, and are neighbors to Braeburn Farm, she said.
“It kind of started as a homestead, but then I got really interested in horticulture, which is where the nursery comes in,” she said. “We also raise goats for meat and, hopefully, we’ll have a dairy soon and [we have] produce, but the seedlings are in horticulture, which is kind of my thing.”
Machaven Farm “is a mixed vegetable operation with a herd of goats, sheep, hogs, a flock of chickens and bees.”
The NC AgVentures will assist Machaven Farm in improving their existing seed house by adding a heating and cooling system, tools to passively control temperature, additional fans and growing tables, and an irrigation system.
A seed house, essentially, performs the same function as a greenhouse, except they are much cheaper and easier to build and maintain, and are better suited for starting seeds and propagation. The upgraded seed house will help the farm to “better offer seedlings to home gardeners and farmers in our area.”
Crisafulli-Jackson said Machaven Farm is currently in the long, arduous process of becoming organic certified. However, the farm has always followed organic farming practices, as the farmer who farmed the land before them did, too.
“It’s an enormous amount of paperwork and kind of costly, which is why we haven’t had the certification yet,” Crisafulli-Jackson said. “But that is how we farm, – we don’t use pesticides or inorganic fertilizers – we try to do our best to build the soil on our farm… We’re doing our best not to till, so the microbiology in the soil will be the best that it and can feed the plants and make the plants more resistant to pests and weather and the things that are harmful on a farm.”
For those looking to buy Machaven Farm’s produce, there is a self-service, roadside produce stand on the farm. The farm’s produce is also sold at the Saxapahaw General Store. They’ll also pop up periodically at various farmers markets around the area.
Crisafulli-Jackson said she loves when people are interested in seeing the farm, but she did ask that folks call or email ahead of time to schedule a tour.
“Because I’m still a mom and I’m trying to manage schoolwork and kids and the farm at the same time, I just ask that people schedule ahead, so I can really give them some concentrated time,” Crisafulli-Jackson said.