Open Ridge Farm is husband and wife team, Jonathan ("Jona") Felts and Gretchen Ferrell, with day labor and entertainment provided by our daughter, Opal. Our farm is 3.5 acres along Rock Creek, watershed of Mt. Mitchell, in the South Toe Area of Yancey County, consisting of a young fruit and nut orchard, market and pepper gardens, and certified Farm Kitchen with dining space.
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. Recently, Gretchen created "Southern Appalachian Expeditions", where students from around the country come to learn about Yancey County's unique cultural and ecological heritage.
We moved back to the States in 2004, to Gretchen's hometown in northeast Florida, where we started and managed the area's first farmer's market, community garden, and local food education programs - which are still thriving today! We moved South Toe in 2012, in an effort to be close to family, while also having land to grow food and a strong community. We began selling at the Yancey Market in 2013.
Gretchen serves as Secretary for the Dig In! Community Garden Board of Directors. Jona serves as Vice President for the Yancey County Farmers Market Board. Together, they also coordinate the school garden at South Toe Elementary.
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, grapes, apples, and inoculated mushroom logs.
In the Farm Kitchen we make delicious farm-based products such as seasonal greens pesto, jams/jellies and most importantly, Pica Rica hot sauce! This space is also used for events and workshops, 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 addicts 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 Pica Verde Chipotle.