News & Media
By Renée DeLuca, WRAL Digital Solutions
Originally posted on WRAL.com
Farm to table is more than just a slogan at Deans Farm Market in Wilson, it’s a way of life.
Courtney and James Sharp have run the operation since 2001, and have turned it into much more than a place to purchase produce.
“We decided to take on the operation of the market and farm to directly market our own produce, and at the same time create a good environment for our kids to learn responsibilities and grow up,” Courtney explained.
Deans Farm Market has been around since 1965, and has been growing and selling crops like strawberries, watermelon, lettuce, sweet corn, peas, tomatoes and butter beans since then. Today the farm also offers prepared meals, farm tours and field trips, agriculture classes for local school children, and a variety of events throughout the year.
Located in a historic old tobacco barn, Deans Farm Market is open year round, every day (except for Sundays from January until March). Along with fresh, seasonal produce, you can also purchase canned and frozen goods, marinara sauce, home décor and other offerings such as flags, jewelry, candles and much more from more than 30 vendors.
Two years ago, the Sharps decided to build a commercial kitchen, and have implemented a team of chefs to create complete meals for families on the go. These meals can be purchased online and picked up on Wednesdays and Fridays each week. Feeding three to four people, the price ranges from $25 to $30 for each meal.
“We saw the kitchen as an opportunity to expand our offerings and add year-round supply of fresh produce by freezing and canning what we produce seasonally,” James said. “When someone takes time out of their schedule to shop local with us, we provide them with more options than just fresh produce. The meals we prepare save our customers time and the stress of cooking, and provide a well-balanced meal.”
Pork loin from nearby Sharp Farms, mashed sweet potatoes and green beans were included in a recent offering. Desserts are available as well, featuring delicious pies, pound cakes and other sweet treats. Holiday meals are available and offer a selection of entrees and sides.
Local children can participate in field trips and summer camps, where they can explore the fields and learn where their food really comes from, engage in an indoor agriculture classroom and enjoy a playground.
They can interact with farm animals such as goats, chickens and donkeys, slide down a 40-foot slide, jump on the Jolly Jump Pad, race in the Racin’ Rollers, in addition to much more playground fun.
Courtney is a Master’s level, certified teacher, and provides the hands-on education in the agricultural classroom, along with lesson plans that correlate with the North Carolina Public School Standards.
“My degrees in elementary education and special education, along with over 10 years of teaching, have provided a firm foundation connecting what we do on the farm to the education field,” she said. “I am able to connect our farm curriculum to N.C. curriculum in our indoor Agricultural Classroom to create an exciting learning situation for all ages.”
Other events throughout the year include a Fall Festival with hayrides, Santa’s Workshop and a Spring Fling. This year there was a soybean maze for the kids—shaped like a whirligig to highlight the local Whirligig Park.
“We enjoy highlighting other local businesses at the farm,” Courtney said, “bringing the city together.”
Courtney and James live just down the road, where they are raising their two girls, Alyson and Kynslee, ages 8 and 10 years old. Family life on the farm brings them all together.
“The farm is the best place, in our opinion, to teach kids a firm foundation of respect for others, appreciate our land and animals, and teach responsibility,” Courtney said. “Our kids are an integral part of our farm, and help throughout the year. They have learned how to interact socially with others, and understand our business, which we feel will helps them become productive citizens as they grow.”
The Sharps also offer space for birthday parties, family reunions and other private events.
Read more articles about Wilson on WRAL.com