Farmer Profile: Orange Sky Organics

 

Drawn to agriculture by their love of plants, David Barbee and Michael Carpenter have licensed plots at Good Hope Farm since 2017. Their shared agribusiness, Orange Sky Organics, specializes in turmeric production. This slow-growing crop does well in the Piedmont’s warm, humid climate. Planted in the spring, its rhizome (or root structure) is harvested in late fall, and has been used as an anti-inflammatory treatment for centuries.

 

David and Mike pride themselves in growing and selling local food. “The benefits are clear to me as both a farmer and a consumer,” Mike says “As a farmer, it allows me to get better produce to a larger market with less spoilage. As a consumer, your availability of better, more nutritious produce increases.” The two farmers emphasize that small-scale urban farming can increase consumer exposure to unique, specialty crops, turning buying local into a learning experience.

 

Consumers are not the only ones learning. Even with some agricultural training prior to establishing their business at Good Hope Farm, David and Mike are always gaining new skills on the job. Some of the farmers’ most valuable lessons have been in infrastructure repair and plant pest and disease management, which they have never before “had to do on such a scale.” Another learning curve was getting used to sharing farm equipment, irrigation, and other assets. While they have encountered some challenges along the way, David and Mike believe that their experience at Good Hope has been helpful as they grow their turmeric business.

 

Mike and David continue to explore new market opportunities and build strong relationships with their clients. “We’ve been able to market quite a bit of produce to Whole Foods this year,” Mike says. They recently began selling their turmeric at the nearby Whole Foods Market West Cary store. This was a large step forward for their business, and the farmers plan to expand sales to Whole Foods on a regional level. “Currently, we are in discussion with getting into [Whole Foods’] distribution network so that we can stock our product at stores within the region that are outside of our range to deliver,” Mike says. Look for Orange Sky Organics turmeric during your next visit to the Whole Foods at Alston Town Center, and try adding it to your next stir-fry or mug of tea.