Open Ridge Farm is husband and wife team, Jonathan ("Jona") Felts and Gretchen Ferrell, with day labor and entertainment provided by our daughter, Opal.
We have both been involved in permaculture and local food activism and education since before we joined forces in Costa Rica in 2003. Jona specializes in plant propagation and was a greenhouse grower for a couple of decades, during which time he began learning about, and eventually taught, permaculture. Gretchen also coordinates and guides experiential education trips for students, abroad and domestically.
We moved back to the States together, to Gretchen's hometown in northeast Florida, where we saw a need for local food knowledge and access, and thus started and managed the area's first farmer's market, community garden, and local food education programs - which are still thriving today! We moved to the Burnsville area in 2012, both having family in the area, and couldn't get seeds and trees in the ground fast enough. We began selling at the Yancey Market in 2013.
The farm is located on about 3.5 acres along Rock Creek, watershed of Mt. Mitchell, in the South Toe Area of Yancey County.
Our gardens are cultivated with hand tools, utilizing low-to-no-till, and low-input organic growing methods. We grow about a half-acre of intensive annual vegetables for local markets, restaurants and bi-weekly farm pick-ups. We have also planted a mixed fruit and nut orchard, as well as a variety of perennials such as asparagus, berries and inoculated mushroom logs. We are fortunate to have inherited old apple trees and grape vines with the farm, which are also available in season.
The Farm Kitchen is newly opened in 2016. Here we will make delicious farm-based products such as seasonal greens pesto, hot sauce, jams/jellies and more. This space will also be used for events and workshops starting in 2017, focusing on casual, family-friendly farm dinners throughout the season. Join our "Farm Events" email to keep in the loop!
Jona began making hot sauce in the tropics with his homemade banana vinegar and "Panama Peppers", a close habanero relative. It was instantly addictive, and since that time he receives notes from his junkies around the world, begging for the sauce. Fortunately for you all, it is officially legal and requires no shipping for locals! See "Hot Sauce" page for more info about Pica Rica and his other two sauces, Pica Verde and Chipotle.