CFSA Farm Tour – Eco Farm

Our second stop on the farm tour was Eco Farm, a small diverse operation in Orange County, NC. Eco is run by Cindy and John Soehner and has been in operation since 1995.


John Soehner - Eco Farm


John proclaimed that the large hackberry tree on the property is in fact THE largest hackberry tree, anywhere.


hackberry tree


Back to the beginning…the first thing we saw when we arrived were a handful of pigs feeding on fruit and vegetable scraps from the Lantern Restaurant and other such places. They seemed to be enjoying the spent lemons and limes which seemed to make up the majority of the piles.




Elsewhere on the property were young turkeys…


turkeys at eco farm


…and Vernon, the farm’s pet pig. Vernon seemed to have full access to the farm as there was no fencing around his little pig house.


vernon the pig


Eco Farm makes use of a passive solar greenhouse made of AAC block, the same kind of block we are going to build our house out of. The block has a very high insulation value, which makes it a great material for an unheated greenhouse.


passive solar greenhouse


One of the big products from Eco Farm is shiitake mushrooms. Dozens of stacked log piles were scattered throughout a shady wooded portion of the farm.


shiitake log stacks


Logs are drilled all the way around with 5/16″ holes for dowel plugs or 1/2″ for saw dust plugs. The holes are then covered with wax as are the ends of the logs. A close up of shiitake plugs


shiitake spore plugs


It takes two years for shiitake logs to really start producing.


John mentioned that he has good luck using gum tree logs even though most growers suggest using oak only. John said he can grow mushrooms on pretty much any log, but the lifespan will vary greatly depending on the type of wood used. Typically the logs used in mushroom production last four to five years before they become too rotten to produce decent flushes of mushrooms. After their life in production, logs can be further composted and used in the fields.


spent shiitake logs


Prime time for shiitakes is July through September. During this time the logs are submerged overnight in cold water then left in stacked piles. Mushrooms will emerge in about a week after soaking.


shiitake mushroom


Near the mushroom logs was a small field of greens. The tatsoi had been left to flower and go to seed, probably to bring in beneficial pollinators. I was able to get some good bee pictures, but was briefly interrupted when a student reporter with The Daily Tarheel asked me a few questions. None of my answers made it into the article. I don’t really remember saying much that was quotable or newsworthy, so I guess it was for the best.


tatsoi flowers


The bee pictures pretty much speak for themselves…




bee flying


bee on flower


bee on flower


bee with pollen


A close up showing a pollen basket


bee close up


And a parting shot of some Eco Farm strawberries, which I’m sure by now have been picked –


green strawberries



About Trace

Trace lives in Durham, NC with their partner Kristin. They were joined by baby Tennessee Lynn in April 2012 and baby Hazel in May 2015. Trace is not a talker. Trace also thinks it is a little weird to talk about himself in the third person.
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9 Responses to CFSA Farm Tour – Eco Farm

  1. shawna says:

    Amazing close-ups of the bees here!!!

  2. Pingback: tarheel

  3. Robbyn says:

    Oh, that’s my sort of trip! Love these pictures, especially of the bees

  4. jj says:

    Loved the pictures, thanks for sharing!

  5. Ali says:

    I am loving the pictures of all these farms & learning about it all.

    One question… What is a pollen basket? Is it part of the bee or an accessory? Never really thought of how they got the pollen moved around. Course I just try to leave as much room as possible between me & them!

  6. April says:

    OK! I am the official pig kisser at Circle Acres

  7. Trace says:

    The pollen basket is part of the bee.

  8. jag gillar naturen som den är says:

    Trace Ramsey: The bee whisperer

  9. bearbird says:

    i love that dudes hair.