Turtle Mist Farm
Upon retirement, Bob and Ginger Sykes had their hearts set on buying land and building a home outside of Washington, DC. After hitting some obstacles with the construction process, they decided to meander further south where they found a beautiful 60-acre farm that straddles the Granville and Franklin County lines.
Bob fell in love with the farm instantly. He was intrigued by the history of the farm, and it immediately brought back wonderful childhood memories of his great uncle’s farm. “My great uncle farmed everything! I have vivid memories of milking a cow as a little boy, then I was put on the churn to make butter, and then we used my butter on the warm biscuits my aunt made,” Bob reminisced. After seeing this property, Bob wanted to reproduce his uncle’s farm here in North Carolina and have a place where children could experience farm life and learn about agriculture just as he did as a youngster.
“I wanted my very own Old MacDonald Farm, and now we have it. We’ve been here for fifteen years, and the farm has grown over the years,” Bob said. With a unique farm name like Turtle Mist Farm came the desire to have unique animals. The farm is home to several types of pigs and geese, all kinds of birds, Gelbvieh cows, a garden with a variety of produce, sheep, and the list goes on. It’s quite a fascinating place where school children have been able to put their hands in the dirt to dig sweet potatoes, milk goats, and gather eggs – these are just a few of the experiences provided to help educate the public about where food comes from. The Sykes have a meat and produce business where they sell direct to local consumers. Interested in spending a few nights at Turtle Mist Farm? They also have a farm house that’s available for rent so families can experience life in the country and on a real-working farm.
It hasn’t always been easy, and they’ve had some learning curves to overcome, but the Sykes have found success in establishing a strong network. Bob’s business background has been instrumental in making smart decisions as he’s expanded while still trying to remain small, and the farm couple has placed great importance on cementing relationships with their loyal customers. “We’ve used a different approach to farming, and it’s paid off for us. We’ve been blessed over the years, and we need to work hard to keep land in the hands of farm families, especially our black farmers,” Bob stated.
As a beginning farmer at 58 years old, it certainly was not Bob’s initial retirement aspirations, but he and Ginger have experienced a rewarding retirement career of educating young people (and even adults – you should hear Bob’s stories!), being the longest standing member of the Wake Forest Farmer’s Market, and mentoring numerous individuals from all backgrounds and walks of life that desired to become farmers.
Here at AgCarolina Farm Credit, we’re thankful for the Sykes and the positive impact they’ve had on their local community.