Black River Organic Farm

Stefan Hartman is the original organic farmer in the state of North Carolina.  Black River is a ubiquitous presence at all the best farmer’s markets in the Wilmington area and his produce is a favorite among local chefs and small grocers.  Stefan has been very generous with his time and expertise, and friendship, too.  On this little index page, there is really no way to do justice to the story of Stefan and Black River Organic Farm and how important he has been to the sustainable agriculture movement in North Carolina.  Please continue to our blogpost on the subject here.

Humble Roots Farm

Kyle Stenersen is one of the most impressive young men I’ve ever met.  His farm, located just down the hill from Poplar Grove Plantation on the outskirts of Wilmington, is a mix of produce and meat production.  Kyle has a popular farmstand where regular customers come to purchase eggs, poultry, beef, pork and produce.  He has recently begun teaching small-farm workshops onsite as well.  I met Kyle at the Farmer’s Market at Poplar Grove a few years back.  Since then, he has started an exceptional Saturday farmer’s market at the Tidal Creek Co-op. We were fortunate to be asked to serve on the board of this (very) strictly producer-only market.  At Turner Family Farms, we have some of the same influences, methods, and crops as Humble Roots, and we often share equipment and labor, but Kyle grows a few eclectic crops like ginger that we intend to slip into our CSA boxes.  It has been a pleasure working with Kyle and Riley and we look forward to future joint efforts in the future.

     Cottle Organics

With over 300 acres in organic production, Cottle Organics is the largest organic grower in the state.  Herbie Cottle converted the family farming business from conventional strawberry and tobacco farming, to a hugely successful, large-scale, all organic endeavor.  Cottle Organics is located in Rose Hill only a few miles from the original Turner Family Farm (Teachey.)  Though our grandparents were friends, I only met Herbie about 8 years ago at one of Tony Kleese’s famous farming classes conducted onsite at Cottle Organics.  Herbie’s knowledge on organic produce farming is unsurpassed, rivaling his good friend, Stefan Hartman.  Whenever I visit with Herbie in his office, I keep a notebook and pen on hand so I can pick his brain while he’s sitting still.  Stillness is not Herbie’s natural state; I can tell you that.  The man is a dynamo.  For more information about Cottle Organics, there is an exceptional article written by Emily Buehler of the Weaver Street Market website.

Obrien Family Farms


Another very impressive young farmer is our new friend, Sean Obrien.  Obrien Family Farms is located in Coasts, N.C. just west of Benson.  After getting a degree from the University of New Mexico, Sean traveled the world from Portugal to Hawaii, settling for a while in California where he worked with specialty crops.  He discovered an affinity and aptitude for growing thornless blackberries and eventually became a farmer/student of Dr. John R. Clark, noted blackberry expert and professor at the University of Arkansas.  Sean and his dad, Tom, have planted several acres of blackberries that will be ready for harvest next season.  They have a very nice 200′ high tunnel where they grow tomatoes and cucumbers, too.  I will be doing a blogpost in the spring as the story of the Obriens and this unique and very beautiful farm deserves much more press than it currently gets.  We will be offering Obrien blackberries to our CSA customers in 2019 and we look forward to working closely with Sean as his operation progresses.