The Farm at Dover Vineyard

subject: FarmWine

Elizabeth Anne Dover is a lifetime resident of Concord, North Carolina. Believing she wanted to be a diplomat, Ms. Dover received a degree in medieval Spanish from Davidson College before settling on a career as a winemaker and farmer. She owns The Farm at Dover Vineyard, a produce farm and vineyard located near the Charlotte Motor Speedway. She opened her business in 2009, however her family have farmed in the Charlotte region since the mid-1700s. Ms. Dover provides insight into the challenges and satisfaction of small-scale farming and selling produce in the Charlotte region. She discusses the physical and economic effects of Charlotte’s growth on historic farmlands and describes how public perceptions of small-scale southern farming are at odds with the realities.

Tape Log

Time Description
0:00 Introductions
0:49 Ms. Dover talks about where her interest in farming came from.
3:08 Ms. Dover discusses her family history on the land.
4:30 Ms. Dover reflects on the origin of her winemaking interests.
5:41 Ms. Dover discusses where she received her education for winemaking.
8:11 Necessity of her produce operation.
8:53 Ventures between Dover and community in Concord.
9:28 Founding of The Farm at Dover Vineyards and her current produce.
9:56 Types of grapes grown.
10:19 Importance of community to a family farm.
11:13 Difficulties growing and selling produce in the Charlotte region.
13:19 Frustrations with farmers markets in the Charlotte region.
16:26 Alternatives to farmers markets and local groceries.
17:56 High land costs and high production costs in the Charlotte region.
18:56 Ms. Dover discusses her alternative sources of income
19:13 Bartending and selling produce to breweries.
20:38 Effects of changing weather on farming and winemaking practices.
21:58 Growth of Charlotte and dangers to farmland.
23:36 Water supply for farming.
23:59 Changes in farming practice over the years.
24:42 Changes in types of crops being produced due to weather.
25:31 Farming organizations, associations, and cooperatives.
26:30 Importance of social media for modern farming.
28:10 Neighboring farms.
30:27 Demand for organic produce and lack of supply.
31:27 Lack of farm workers and partnership with Opportunity House
32:16 Difficulty hiring visa workers and immigrant workers.
34:10 Public misconceptions about family farming.
38:10 Advice to those wanting to start farming in the Charlotte region.
39:02 Advice to those wanting to start winemaking.
39:56 Sustaining a farm in the Charlotte region
41:26 Why Ms. Dover farms.
42:20 Future of Ms. Dover’s farm and winemaking.
44:33 Conclusions.


>> Quinn Whittington: Okay, so my name is Quinn Whittington, and I am interviewing Elizabeth Andover on March 13th, 2019. I am conducting the interview at Elizabeth’s farm, the farm at Dover Vineyards in Concord, North Carolina. This interview is part of the Queen’s Gardens, Oral Histories of the Piedmont Foodshed, and Oral History Project conducted by graduate students from the University of North Carolina.
The Charlotte’s Public History Program, is project seeks to collect the stories of those who broke, cultivate, produce distribute fresh food in the Charlotte. So I guess, that this place is sort is just to ask you where your interest in farming. And I know it largely started with wine making.
You can probably kinda combine the two and kinda discuss where that interest comes from.
>> Elizabeth Andover: My family has been farmers for generations. So I grew up and my grandmother started me of on tomato plants and corn. I used to dig around in the dirt in my parents’ yard planting things, they never grew.
But my other grandmother, grandmother Dover, grew up on a tobacco farm down east, and she liked to grow flowers. So that’s where the interest in farming came from. I have some cousins who live about two miles away who own a large produce farm and grew up watching them do that.
And they gave me my first job working at a farmer’s market as a fill in for one day, selling tomatoes for them. And I really enjoyed that. My dad owned grocery stores, and we used to buy from farmers back in the day. And so I’ve had an interest in food and natural food from a very young age.
Whenever we started the vineyard, we needed to have something to bring in income for the first three years. Cuz you plant your vines and then you wait for three years, while they grow. Then you harvest, and then your fourth year you have a bottle of wine that sells.
So that’s four years of not having any money coming in that you have labor and so in order to sorta streamline the labor needed to run the vineyard and to have some money coming in, we started growing vegetables. I took vegetable growing classes as part of my electives for my horticulture class, and then when I was at Appalachia State.
I went to or I enrolled in their agro-ecology program, which was really fun. And was just sort of a hobby. A way for me to get credits as I was learning about wine making there.
>> Quinn Whittington: What was the name. Do you remember what the name of your father’s grocery stores were?
>> Elizabeth Andover: Dover Supermarkets.
>> Quinn Whittington: Just Dover Supermarkets?
>> Elizabeth Andover: Mm-hm.
>> Quinn Whittington: And where were they.
>> Elizabeth Andover: One was in Concord, one was in Davison, one was in Mt Pleasant.
>> Quinn Whittington: Okay, do you know about how about how long your family has been on this land specifically?
>> Elizabeth Andover: We came here in the early 1900’s, we are supposedly according to legend the bastard offspring of a very respectable family in King’s Mountain.
And we were the entire other illegitimate family of this one dude and the family in King’s Mountain bought this property all around here. And sent the second family down here to live, that’s how we got here. Now my mother’s side of the family’s been here much longer since about, I think we moved from Mount Pleasant to here in the, I guess the mid 1800’s.
And my cousins who own the farm over there, they’ve been there on that property since we moved from our present in mid 1800’s. So- Hm-mm.
>> Quinn Whittington: So what the wines specifically I know that was actually your primary interest developing us area. Do you know where that really came from?
>> Elizabeth Andover: I watched shows on PBS my senior year of college or my junior year. It was the junior year of college and I was pursuing a degree in Medieval Spanish and I wanted to be a diplomat. So I studied languages and political theory and religion. And my dad really wanted me to come home and live in Concord, and so I needed a job and I wasn’t super excited about pursuing more of school.
Having to go to graduate school was not something I was looking forward to so I decided that I would try grape growing. I mean it really was me watching like a Charlotte, North Carolina, whatever on PBS during the summer.
>> Quinn Whittington: Did you, I know you pursued education for your produce.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Mm-hm.
>> Quinn Whittington: But for your wine making, you probably needed to get some training to know how this are growing. The grapes necessary, where did you get that training?
>> Elizabeth Andover: I went to NC State and then after a year, I learned to grow grapes under Sarah Spade, she’s is a really renowned grape grower.
Then I went to,
>> Elizabeth Andover: Or transferred to Appalachian and learned very little there. Except for how to throw a Frisbee and eat tacos on Tuesdays. And I was so disappointed in the program that I complained to the dean. And he said, well that’s because there’s no program here.
So essentially a professor had made up an academic program that was not currently funded. It was going to be funded. It took about five more years for it to be funded, but we were there under the auspices that we would be able to graduate with that degree. That was not the case, so I ended up taking courses that would transfer back to NC State.
And so I went back there, studied more about grapes, more about horticulture, and then more about vegetables because I had picked up that bug at Appalachian. And while I was at NC State I went down to New Zealand and enrolled in their AG school, Huffington University. And went to school there to learn about wine making, worked at a very small producer doing a little volunteer sort of thing, called Pyramid Valley Vineyards, and then came back and graduated.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Then I went down to Australia and worked at Vintage and while I was down there I was also enrolled in UC Davis extension courses over the Internet to learn about wine making to a higher degree.
>> Quinn Whittington: So you mentioned earlier that really the process was meant to kind of offset the cost of producing the wine.
Now that you’re actually in the process of producing the wine, has it ever, have you ever considered cutting out the produce portion of your farm, or?
>> Elizabeth Andover: It’s a consideration, but there’s no real. Where that’s just starting to make money, so I would hate to cut that out when it’s starting to make money.
>> Quinn Whittington: So being in the Concord Area, you obviously have the NASCAR itself all around you. How connected are you with the community here? Like with churches, I don’t know farmers markets or any kind community ventures that might bring produce to people?
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yeah, I mean my church has a community garden.
They’re not doing it this year but we’re doing it on there behalf. So yeah. [LAUGH] We’re very connected to the community.
>> Quinn Whittington: Is there anything else you do besides helping doing stuff with the church? Do you do anything related to NASCAR, in the area?
>> Elizabeth Andover: No.
>> Quinn Whittington: Okay.
>> Elizabeth Andover: No.
>> Quinn Whittington: So how long have you been farming specifically?
>> Elizabeth Andover: 2009, so 10 years.
>> Quinn Whittington: Okay, and what kind of crops do you grow?
>> Elizabeth Andover: We grow strawberries, berries, onions, lettuces, greens, okra, butternut squash.
>> Quinn Whittington: Is there a specific reason why you grow those ones or are they just, so they grow-
>> Elizabeth Andover: They grow well here. They’re very low maintenance. [INAUDIBLE] the least amount of care.
>> Quinn Whittington: And what kinda grapes do you grow?
>> Elizabeth Andover: [INAUDIBLE] and Cabernet Franc.
>> Quinn Whittington: Are those grapes people will typically grow in this region.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Mm-hm, okay.
>> Quinn Whittington: And
>> Quinn Whittington: First, would you consider this a family farm?
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yeah.
>> Quinn Whittington: Okay, how important do you think it is for a family farm to be deeply connected with the community?
>> Elizabeth Andover: There’s no way to have it any other way.
>> Quinn Whittington: Any other way.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yeah, that doesn’t exist.
>> Quinn Whittington: Okay, yeah so like compared to some of the larger farms.
Like the really, really big ones we’re gonna be producing.
>> Elizabeth Andover: I don’t know any farms that isn’t deeply connected to the community.
>> Quinn Whittington: Okay. And even the large ones?
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yeah.
>> Quinn Whittington: Okay.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yeah.
>> Quinn Whittington: [LAUGH]
>> Elizabeth Andover: You don’t farm unless you have a community, that’s impossible. Yeah.
>> Quinn Whittington: Yeah.
>> Elizabeth Andover: I don’t care how big you are, how big Nebraska is, whatever. Does people care about each other.
>> Quinn Whittington: So what difficulties have you had the experience like growing. Selling and getting your, produces the market. And the Charlotte region in general.
>> [NOISE]
>> Elizabeth Andover: So how long have you been, sorry, I already asked that question.
>> Quinn Whittington: [LAUGH]
>> Elizabeth Andover: Forever. [LAUGH]
>> Quinn Whittington: [LAUGH] What difficulties do you experience growing in this area? Like in the Charlotte region?
>> Elizabeth Andover: So any farmer will say the weather. Weather’s always a challenge running a weather based business. We have a hard time finding workers, but that’s nothing suprising.
Then there’s an [INAUDIBLE]
region, there are two types of [INAUDIBLE] of people actually in Charlotte who wanna eat good, healthy food and the pay a premium for it, because they don’t always know enough about farming to know what that looks like. [NOISE] Or to know when things are in season.
So we have people in Charlotte who are pretty uneducated about the food they kinda cook. And then we gotta keep on [INAUDIBLE] surrounding suburbs, who have food, or might have grown up around a farm, or might have their own garden. So why are they gonna go out and support a local farm, because They can grow it themselves in the backyard.
So prices dropped tremendously as soon as you leave the city. So people want to come a little bit more [INAUDIBLE] people are more experience and knowledgeable about it. And they’re also pickier. So people in Concord, I guess, probably Gastonia or Matthews, too. Whenever it comes down to like cucumber season, I can sell cucumbers that are large in Charlotte.
While someone takes that large cucumber in Concord and say, o, my God, that is just so overgrown. I would never eat that. So it becomes more difficult to sell, produce in their area, pickier. How’s that? Is that an answer for you?
>> Quinn Whittington: Yeah, that’s a good answer. [LAUGH]
>> Elizabeth Andover: Okay.
>> Quinn Whittington: And typically in Charlotte you just sell at a farmer’s markets?
>> Elizabeth Andover: We, I have a problem with farmers markets. Farmers markets are the worst way for you to pay. Anytime you have to pay to sell your produce you’re, that’s not good. You gotta do extremely high volume for that to start paying off.
Plus you work on your Saturday, and who wants to do that? Nobody wants to It’s the worst model ever. If other businesses were based like farmers base their businesses, everybody else says no. No, I’m not doing that. I’m not gonna pick up my farm go and set my farm up somewhere else.
One day a week like retail says that’s a really bad idea. We do go to a place called the Plaza Middle Farmer’ Market. And I think outside of the common market, and then we also setup out side of free range. And neither of these places charge [INAUDIBLE] money.
[INAUDIBLE] high volume traffic, [INAUDIBLE] competition. I have been to a lot of farmer’s markets and they They’re just hard and miserable like I like to sleep in. Our farmers markets on Saturdays start at 10 o’clock. That means we start work at 8 o’clock, that’s reasonable that’s not crazy.
For you to start your farmers market.
>> Quinn Whittington: That one or two?
>> Elizabeth Andover: That’s one.
>> Quinn Whittington: Okay.
>> Elizabeth Andover: You can start.
>> Quinn Whittington: Okay. Yeah, let met get the hoe and make a hole, or?
>> Elizabeth Andover: Let’s trade actually. I’ll take the hole. For you to start your farmers market at 8 that means people are getting up at 5:30, you know, 5 o’clock on a Satur- Saturday morning and then that’s just one more day out of the week cuz people expect farmers to work regular days.
They don’t expect farmers to take Monday and Tuesday off, but the thing is they expect them to be working on Saturdays so.
>> Quinn Whittington: And are you typically expected [INAUDIBLE] like the larger farmer’s markets to sell your produce at such a low offset your, it’s kind of unreasonable.
>> Elizabeth Andover: That for me that is, definitely became, you can’t set your prices like they need to be set.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Some people do something a certain way so that the cost of an item is super low. We might not be able to do that. However, their low cost would influence the The need for us to set our prices abnormally low. We’re about the only person selling at the common market, outside the common market or whatever.
[INAUDIBLE] And I dont’ feel, [INAUDIBLE] they want it they buy it.
>> Quinn Whittington: Mm-hm, no. What issue do you have with that, specifically?
>> Elizabeth Andover: So we aren’t GAP certified. I don’t have trouble with it. My cousins do it. I’m really happy for them. We’re not going to get GAP certified, I don’t think, because right now we just [INAUDIBLE] majority of our produce to a CSA, that’s the best way cuz then you have guaranteed customers coming by repurchase their food, that is my favorite way.
It’s like selling vegetable features. So that’s meat. [NOISE] It’s the only way for us, for me to do like. Direct to consumer, so the response [INAUDIBLE] sales for this place called Fresh List, which is a local food [INAUDIBLE] [INAUDIBLE] So that would be our food ending up at a grocery store.
And then what else? Yeah, restaurants to freshlist to people who come by our farm stand.
>> Quinn Whittington: Sand or people who have combined.
>> [NOISE]
>> Elizabeth Andover: One thing that I would say about the Charlotte market, are you ready?
>> Quinn Whittington: Yep.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Okay. One thing that is unique about the Charlotte market Is that land prices are so high, and people can’t afford to start funding unless they have a really great rental deal, or they inherit the land, and the demand for local food outstrips the supply, and it’s not necessarily gonna make people money.
So the economics for growing local food are not what they need to be in order for people to pursue this as a career. You almost have to do it as a hobby. I have other jobs, I suggest other farmers get other jobs because Farming is really, really difficult.
And to place all your need for income on that one highly risky venture is almost just stupid, honestly. It’s good to have multiple sources of income, cuz one of them is not gonna work out, one time or another.
>> Quinn Whittington: So does that, to your other sources of income or your other jobs.
Do they relate to wine or?
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yes wine, I’m a contract wine maker for other companies. And I recently got a job at a wine store I’ve also bartended. I like food, I like beer, I like wine so that’s where I found my jobs.
>> Quinn Whittington: Where did you park?
>> Elizabeth Andover: [INAUDIBLE] they’re getting from local people unless it’s the Carolina They do supplement all the funky beers, supplement with a lot of likely grown crazy things which is so fun. I love grown for the brewers, yeah. But grapes, if we’re talking about local beverages, grapes we grow them here and that’s all you get in wine.
It’s grapes. So that’s really truly a local beverage. Beer, they have to supplement with the local things to make it a local beverage.
>> Quinn Whittington: Because hops has a difficult time growing.
>> Elizabeth Andover: In this area.
>> Quinn Whittington: Yeah. So you [INAUDIBLE] has that really increased the sales [INAUDIBLE]
>> Elizabeth Andover: [INAUDIBLE] What that was so I wouldn’t have data before that.
>> Quinn Whittington: Okay.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yeah.
>> Quinn Whittington: Now, you also mentioned that of course it’s [INAUDIBLE] for very farmer to consider. But has changing weather been a huge issue when In regards to farming in this area?
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yes, well, especially when it comes to grapes. The grapes that we grow [INAUDIBLE] block.
The first year I’ve planted the block. And thanks to climate change we had a [INAUDIBLE] that came from the south. Or actually [INAUDIBLE] came in and started affecting the plants. You need a certain amount of pull to sterilize the plants every year. And so the first few years that I was growing, we lost half of our crop.
And we and subsequently lost a large portion of our but we are now more on top of that especially when it gets cold in the winter like this [INAUDIBLE] cold. I’m expected to see [INAUDIBLE] plant so it’s a systemic [INAUDIBLE], so if it doesn’t die the first year, it might die in the second or the third year.
>> Quinn Whittington: Now, what about the actual growth of Charlotte as a city? Has encroaching suburbs and stuff like that, has that Have you been worried about issues related to that?
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yeah sure, one of my farms properties that I grow my other grandmothers front yard is on Purple Tent Road and they are constantly threatening to widen that road and that would pretty much destroy that farm.
I think that That is a perfect example of the growth of Charlotte encroaching on farms. Certainly prices and farms [INAUDIBLE] like younger farmers not being able to start out because they can’t buy land, the cost of land because you know, because of reflected on housing government or [INAUDIBLE]
>> Quinn Whittington: Yeah its working
>> Elizabeth Andover: Okay
>> Quinn Whittington: [INAUDIBLE] [INAUDIBLE] Impacts, a farm.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Right, try and make people see that the fact they’re moving here doesn’t give them the right to tell us that we don’t know a right to be here too. I mean is just the same as [INAUDIBLE].
>> Quinn Whittington: Do you feel like you’re [INAUDIBLE]?
>> Elizabeth Andover: No. No, not at all. People care about their drive time, they don’t care about the community that they’re driving through, especially if they’re just here for a few years, they don’t like, they might buy a house here, but they’re not going to stay here.
Their kids aren’t going to stay here, so they’re not going to retire here, they retire to other places. They don’t have a place that they’re really from.
>> Quinn Whittington: Have there been concerns about water supply at all now?
>> Elizabeth Andover: Girl, you seen the rain? [LAUGH]
>> Quinn Whittington: Yeah, so, and I can your family history and how it relates to now.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yeah.
>> Quinn Whittington: How do you see it as, growing up on farms and stuff like that, how What is the biggest changes in practice that you’ve witnessed if any?
>> Elizabeth Andover: Just the rise of organics being such a thing that people do. [INAUDIBLE] called organic we’ve just farmed, then you get the whole chemical agriculture thing that [INAUDIBLE].
It’s probably up until the 90s, that was pretty popular and that it’s not necessarily, it’s just learning the consequences of your actions. People learn the consequences spraying those chemicals on their crops, on the soil, on our bodies.
>> Quinn Whittington: Are there any crops that can no longer grow here that you know of.
More crops that are more easily grown with changes in weather?
>> Elizabeth Andover: I don’t think so. Like this year we also planted rice.
>> Quinn Whittington: Yeah. [LAUGH] [INAUDIBLE]
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yeah, we all should have planted rice this year.
>> Quinn Whittington: [LAUGH]
>> Elizabeth Andover: But other than that, it happened so slowly and we’re always delayed a few seasons on what’s going on.
So it’ll be interesting to see a few years of [INAUDIBLE] growing citrus.
>> Elizabeth Andover: No, but I am a member of the Montpelier Guild. And that is a group of chefs and farmers dedicated to preserving the flavors of the [INAUDIBLE] so [INAUDIBLE]
>> Elizabeth Andover: [INAUDIBLE] in this [INAUDIBLE] it’s just That’s the government’s way of supporting what education [INAUDIBLE].
Your tax dollars at work.
>> Quinn Whittington: Is there just a specific reason why you don’t, aren’t a part of-
>> Elizabeth Andover: Absolutely. [INAUDIBLE] Don’t seem to be like happening. I mean we have Facebook groups, they are not official. It’s not a cooperative. Just like, okay, you go this for sale or I need to find this, where did you find this?
But those are Facebook groups, they are not, there is nothing official, we are not a lobby.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yeah.
>> Quinn Whittington: Has social media been important to the success of your farm?
>> Elizabeth Andover: I couldn’t imagine doing this without it. I would hate to start a small business without social media.
>> Quinn Whittington: You think it’s pretty necessary at this day and age?
>> Elizabeth Andover: It’s great to, I mean like Whenever I put something out there and people say, I saw that i’m going to come by, and then they do. How would they have done that if I hadn’t taken an ad out in the newspaper.
Here’s two days later you have [INAUDIBLE]. It just takes a lot more planning.
>> Quinn Whittington: Do you think before social media, it would have been more necessary to go to places like farmers markets and stuff like that.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Probably, yeah.
>> Quinn Whittington: So it’s more that now your customers can come straight to you which we said earlier is incredibly important to making a successful business.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Right.
>> Quinn Whittington: How many farms do you know that are in this area? Like pretty relatively close to your farm? Based on what l saw on maps l couldn’t see that many.
>> Elizabeth Andover: They’re here. They are, yeah. Sell to find a farm. My cousins have a
>> Elizabeth Andover: What the farms they do.
I agree.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Try out. A lot of really delicious [INAUDIBLE] Yeah, got quite a few out in Gold Hill, and bunches out Mount Pleasant. But in terms of small produce farms, not a whole lot.
>> Elizabeth Andover: They are not a lot of but at the same time. Okay, so you have people who the more suburbs you have the more people you have to feed.
So if you go down east, yeah, they’re larger farms, like really large farms, but are there more? No, they just go on for acres and their customers [INAUDIBLE]
make it easier for you [INAUDIBLE] It’s a give and take.
>> Quinn Whittington: So I think earlier [INAUDIBLE] From like the produce and that is actually how farms to produce it for people.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Uh-huh.
>> Quinn Whittington: Do you know why, if there’s so much demand-
>> Elizabeth Andover: Mm-hm.
>> Quinn Whittington: Why aren’t people starting up farms?
>> Elizabeth Andover: Because it takes years and years of experience to be able to do it. It’s not something you can just learn to do in ten years. I’ll just say I’m startled to know what I’m doing this year.
So ten years of experience, I mean that’s a lot of failure and it’s expensive. Farming is really expensive. The pain, it’s hard. It’s hardwork, it’s not like, yeah, putting your, doing this for a living, it’s not for the faint of heart.
>> Quinn Whittington: And that’s saying [INAUDIBLE], as you who’ve grown up on farms.
>> Elizabeth Andover: [LAUGH] Yeah, I mean, We’re used to it and it’s hard.
>> Quinn Whittington: You have also talked about [INAUDIBLE] difficulty [INAUDIBLE]
>> Elizabeth Andover: People think they have a right to a job. People don’t know what it takes to grow food.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Regina gives it a amen. [LAUGH] We get our employees from, we get Regina and her now boyfriend.
And are people from the opportunity house and then Brandon up there is also from the opportunity house. This is working out I think it’s gonna be pretty great. We’ll see there are people who have trouble finding jobs in other places. Most of ten have been in prison or have substance abuse problems.
But you gotta really wanna A job to work out here. You can’t, I mean, you’ll get paid more doing anything else, anywhere else, and you won’t have to work [NOISE] farm for pennies.
>> Elizabeth Andover: And I would totally get
>> Elizabeth Andover: Visa, get Mexican labor to come in. But you frequent, not frequently, you have to provide them with housing, and I don’t have that.
So for a small farm like me, getting Mexican labor is not an option unless it’s illegal. I don’t have a problem with doing that. But they just haven’t applied to work here.
>> [NOISE]
>> Quinn Whittington: Will you ever, I mean, would you ever consider building housing?
>> Elizabeth Andover: No.
>> Quinn Whittington: No?
[LAUGH] I figured that would be the answer. Be a bit too expensive.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yeah, that’s crazy. You have it or you don’t. But down east, they have these little houses which are teeny tiny, they’re tiny houses. And that’s where they put their farm workers, are in tiny houses, all in a little row.
Have you seen them?
>> Quinn Whittington: No, I haven’t.
>> Elizabeth Andover: They’re cool. Google it.
>> Quinn Whittington: Okay, [LAUGH] I will.
>> Elizabeth Andover: But the thing is, [LAUGH] we as [LAUGH] white Americans think it’s cool. They think it’s like slaves. We’re like it’s a little house, let me live in it. And they’re like dude, this is not how humans live.
Because it’s what they come from, not from what they come from, it’s not their choice to live there.
>> Quinn Whittington: So what we would think of as quaint?
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yeah.
>> Quinn Whittington: And cute, other people would be like-
>> Elizabeth Andover: My God.
>> Quinn Whittington: Let’s say I’ve looked into something like this for years and years.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yeah.
>> Quinn Whittington: And I don’t wanna do that again.
>> Elizabeth Andover: I don’t wanna I will do that, yeah, so.
>> Quinn Whittington: I just I have a few more questions, actually.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Okay.
>> Quinn Whittington: So what is an aspect of farming that people wouldn’t consider or is misunderstood by the public?
>> Quinn Whittington: You mentioned the hard work.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yeah.
>> Quinn Whittington: But is there anything beyond that that you can think of?
>> [NOISE]
>> Elizabeth Andover: I mean, everybody knows that we don’t make much money. But I don’t think people understand how little money it is. [LAUGH] Or what it’s like to live on that little amount of money.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yeah, okay this is good, this is good. And I need some research to back me up on this. So maybe you’ll find it out when you’re doing your histories.
>> Elizabeth Andover: We have a concept of these small farms being vital to the community. [NOISE] And I think that is very much
>> Elizabeth Andover: A Yankee concept. I don’t think, and I know for a fact, whenever people make money outside of the Northeast in farming, it has nothing to do with these quaint little vegetable farms. That’s not how people around here made money. They made money like actually, like our family farms are big.
My great-grandfather had a huge, huge farm. Lots of employees, sharecroppers. [NOISE] farm, it was cotton. [NOISE] People think that small family farms have to be vegetables. That’s not true at all. If you have that much land, you’re gonna have your garden, everybody’s gonna have their garden. We’re not shipping out, it’s not a small diversified operation.
There’s a great Eudora Welty story about a tomato farming town. Have you read it?
>> Quinn Whittington: No, I haven’t.
>> Elizabeth Andover: It’s wonderful, and it’s all about, my God, you’ve gotta read it.
>> Quinn Whittington: I will.
>> Elizabeth Andover: It’s all about growing tomatoes, I think in Florida. And one night there’s a frost, and these people are so cold and they are so poor.
[NOISE] Everything that’s going through their minds as they hear that bell going out through the community telling them that their crops are freezing and what they have to do. But, typically, areas specialize in something. Small, diversified family farms for food is just not something that this area has ever had.
They would have specialized in maybe tomatoes. And then, they would have grown tomatoes. I mean, just think about Patterson’s. Patterson’s has tomatoes, they have strawberries. I mean, and they’re a successful family farm. They’re huge. People would say, no, they’re way too big to be a family farm. No, they’re a family farm.
I know that family, they own the farm. So what-
>> Quinn Whittington: I mean, you’re grandfather owned this massive farm and-
>> Quinn Whittington: Size shouldn’t matter when it comes to
>> Elizabeth Andover: Family farm, yeah. They have tons and tons of employees, but that whole family goes to work on that farm. The farm is owned by the family.
Yeah, you all should go talk to the Pattersons. So have you done them?
>> Quinn Whittington: We may have.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Okay.
>> Quinn Whittington: We have a big Google doc that kind of lists who we should be contacting. [LAUGH]
>> Quinn Whittington: [NOISE] What advice would you give to people who are wanting to get into farming industry in this region?
>> Elizabeth Andover: Don’t. Yeah, I would say start small and have a good job. [NOISE] Or you can be like [NOISE] and be rich and not have to worry about money. Have you all interviewed them?
>> Elizabeth Andover: The [NOISE] you know the [NOISE] right?
>> Quinn Whittington: Yeah.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Okay [NOISE] just started a farm down in South Carolina.
[NOISE] I have a serious case of jealousy over everything they’re able to do. They’re doing it right. But having to bootstrap farming, don’t do that. Either really, really small and have another job outside. Or be really, really wealthy and not have to worry about like having enough money to send your kids to college.
>> Quinn Whittington: Does this also apply to wine making?
>> Elizabeth Andover: The wine making is very different. Wine making, I would say, the only way you wanna open up a winery is if you have about $10 million you can afford to lose straight off the bat. I just got my first paycheck from wine making this year, from my own farm.
It takes forever. So be prepared. To make great quality wine, it takes a lot of money. You can’t just start up small home brewing style sort of thing. Wine is made in volume. Good win is made in volume, it’s not made in small batches. So, yeah.
>> [NOISE]
>> Quinn Whittington: How do you sustain [NOISE]
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yeah, you just [NOISE]
>> [NOISE]
>> Elizabeth Andover: So you got, Gina, these are yours Yeah in terms of I would say make sure you have, I unfortunately do not have a husband or children. I would say that that would be really important to having a nice, good sustainable farm would be to have a life partner and children.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yep, those are two really important things. It is really hard being a single person who farms. No one gets what you’re doing, and then if you tell people this is what you do with your day, they’re like, my god, she’s crazy. Why would she ever do that?
There’s no way I’m gonna date her. Like that’s.
>> Quinn Whittington: Because it’s too much work to-
>> Elizabeth Andover: It’s too much work and not enough money.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Other people like to go off on the weekends or have fun or go on vacations. For the first ten years that you’re farming, it’s really hard to do.
>> Quinn Whittington: So,
>> Quinn Whittington: If it’s not an economically feasible thing to do, then why are you doing it?
>> Elizabeth Andover: Cuz it’s fun.
>> Quinn Whittington: [LAUGH] It’s really what it comes down to?
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yeah. And it’s, I mean, my god, growing your own food is just awesome and wonderful. And there is a demand for it, it just doesn’t pay well.
So, if this is your passion, then it’s your passion. Make sure you can make some money some other way.
>> Elizabeth Andover: What are we doing?
>> Elizabeth Andover: It’s therapeutic.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yeah.
>> Quinn Whittington: It’s so excellent, therapeutic.
>> Elizabeth Andover: It’s therapeutic. I mean, look at the row of onions. See that?
Those are gonna be delicious, and I can see what I just did. I did that. Or we did that.
>> Elizabeth Andover: So that’s why we do it.
>> Quinn Whittington: What do you see the future of your farm?
>> Elizabeth Andover: We’re-
>> Quinn Whittington: And the OneRail. You can talk about that.
>> Elizabeth Andover: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Well, we’re putting in an outdoor instruction kitchen so we’re hopefully gonna be teaching more people to farm. We’re trying to become a, what do you call that, a pick your own operation, so people can come pick their own so it solves the labor problem. And people really love berries.
We have, these are blueberries out here. Some of them are alive, some of them are dead. I’m gonna be replanting some of them next week. But it’ll be about three or four more years before we get that really going strong. We’ve got blueberries, blackberries, muscadines, strawberries. So moving towards more perennials, not annuals.
Annuals are a lot of work, not a lot of money. So moving towards that. In terms of the wine, I’d love to have a tasting room. But if we don’t, I’m okay with that too. We have a great mobile sales routine that we do. We host parties out here.
As long as we’re not at the same place consistently on a certain schedule, then a special event permit applies. And so, [INAUDIBLE].
>> Elizabeth Andover: To keep going down the road of mobile sales. If we win the lottery and somehow find an exorbitant amount of money, then we’ll put in a tasting room.
But until then we will continue along the same path that we’re on.
>> Quinn Whittington: Have you thought of, I mean, you’re kinda surrounded-
>> Elizabeth Andover: Mm-hm.
>> Quinn Whittington: By roads and stuff. Are there any options for expanding your actual farming operation, the size of it?
>> Elizabeth Andover: No. We would have to, well we could ask our neighbors for land, but this is a happy size for me.
Cuz I would have to find someone who would stick with us for more than a season or two before I expanded more. Because there’s only so much person can do, and this is how much I can do.
>> Quinn Whittington: So I think I’m good, I just have one other question.
Are there any questions you wish I had asked, or may have missed?
>> Elizabeth Andover: I don’t think so.
>> Quinn Whittington: Okay.
>> Elizabeth Andover: I’m good. I think you got a lot there, got something to think about.
>> Quinn Whittington: Uh-huh. Yeah.