Family Legacy: Flying Cloud Farm

Family Legacy: Flying Cloud Farm

Annie Louise Perkinson and her husband Isaiah’s story behind Flying Cloud Farm is not your normal Q&A. Their story is so rich is deserves to just be told outright.

I first became acquainted with Annie when she was kind enough to contribute to Farmer and Chef Asheville, a wonderful spicy coconut collards recipe adapted by Alice Water’s Edible Schoolyard. This recipe was also recently featured in Edible Asheville. Full recipe here. Flying Cloud came back into my life in the way of a CSA this Spring and Summer. My first, in fact. Every box is a wonderful gift of freshly farmed produce, complete with emailed information and an accompanying recipe or two.

Thank you Annie and Isaiah (and family) for your wonderful contributions to our community.

From Annie herself, the origins of Flying Cloud and the road to continued family farming; with the help of one of the coolest wedding registries around:

“The Flying Cloud was the stage coach that used to travel the ‘Drovers Road’ right by our farm from Asheville to Sherrill’s Inn, a mile past the farm stand. My great grandparents bought the old inn in 1916 and worked for years to create the beautiful gardens and a home for their family. It was the home place of their farm, which they named Hickory Nut Gap Farm.

Elizabeth Cramer McClure was an amazing artist; actually she was studying art in France before WWI and had to return to Chicago because of the war. She and Jim McClure found the old house on their honeymoon as they drove south in their Hudson Ford. She painted a room of murals in the house to remember the days as an inn and the Flying Cloud is in one of the paintings. When we started our farming operation next to the family farm it seemed a good way to tie the past in with the present.”

She continues, “ I grew up with an agricultural lifestyle. A big garden for eating and canning, raising our own beef and pork, and drinking raw milk from my grandparents dairy (Hickory Nut Gap Farm) was a dairy until I went to college in 1991), but nobody in our family actually farmed for their livelihood. My dad was the community Fairview general practice doctor, my grandfather was a US congressman, editor of the ACTimes, vice-President of WWC, among other jobs. The farm and ‘back to the land’ lifestyle was funded by jobs off the farm.

After spending 2 years at UNC Chapel Hill, I took some time off school and spent a year in Europe visiting family (my dad is English, and I was born in London), and some of the multitude of exchange students that had lived with our family during my childhood. I ended up working on a huge organic farm in northern Germany, Shleswig-Holstein, and also on a small market CSA model garden in Dartmoor, England. This is when I began to realize that farming could be a career choice; I honestly had never been presented with the idea of farming being a livelihood. I came back and finished my last 2 years of college at WWCollege where I learned more about growing food. Isaiah and I reunited in Asheville (we had a brief romance in Chapel Hill a few years before) and quickly united our 2 homes (a school bus and a teepee) in marriage at the young age of 22. My grandmother was insistent that we register somewhere, so we registered at Biltmore Hardware (now Rezaz) and got wheelbarrows, shovels, forks, work gloves, canners, etc for wedding presents. We knew we wanted to farm, we just didn’t know how we were going to manifest our destiny.

In 1999 we planted  blueberries on my parents land, and grew a 1/2 acre garden that we attempted to sell through various avenues. In 2002 we started our CSA, and expanded to around 2 acres in production. By 2007 we both gave up our other jobs and made farming our full time job during the summer season, still supplementing with winter jobs. By 2012 we figured out how to extend the seasons, started growing many storage crops, and made farming our full time jobs, now leasing 20 acres of farmland from 5 landowners. That is where we are today.”

For more infomation about Flying Cloud Farm and their CSA, visit their website.

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