Farmer William Hennessy

What prepared you to be a farmer?       I had no experience in agriculture when I began this journey two and a half years ago.  I turned to books, seminars, spoke with chefs & other farmers, and spent way too much time reading farming blogs on the internet.  I remember one of the first farmers I heard speak at a conference in Savannah, Ga several years ago.  He was reluctant to hand over his farming operation to his son for fear that the son just didn’t quite have enough experience.  The father was in his early 70s, the son in his 50s, and both had been farming their entire life.  A true testament to the fact that you might never be ‘prepared to be a farmer.
What is a unique feature and how many acres do you farm?         I am very blessed that I get to farm land that is in my family.  The 3 acres that I cultivate are part of a larger farm which I am proud to say is managed exhaustively for wildlife habitat.  
Tell us about your main crops and how you chose the varieties.  If you have livestock, tell us about your feed and how they live on your farm.            There are staples that ever gardener and farmer grows: squash, tomatoes, peppers, etc. We grow a wide variety under each of those families; but what is fun I enjoy is growing new and different crops.  For the most part, customers love to try new varieties or experiment with a vegetable they have only read about.  In addition to our garden variety of vegetables we also grow shiitake mushrooms, muscadines & scuppernogs, a variety of flowers, Asian pears, and hops for a brewery in Atlanta.   As of now we have no animals on the farm save Delk, my 2 year old yellow lab.  Chicken ‘tractors’ are being built in preparation for chickens that we look forward to welcoming to the family soon.  

How much of food goes to farmers markets and or restaurants?      95% of our food either goes to restaurants or the farmer’s market.  Allocation changes on a weekly basis depending on demand.  The remaining 5% that does not pass quality standards goes to my kitchen or the compost pile.

What challenges do you have as a farmer?            Farmers are at the mercy of mother nature.  Extremes in temperatures, rain, strong winds, insects, diseases, and wildlife are just a few of the challenges that come across our desk on a daily basis.  Fortunately, I have the greatest customers any farmer could wish for.  Educated customers understand the challenges we face and truly appreciate all the work we put into bringing the freshest  and best tasting produce to market at a price that is fair to farmer and consumer. 

 Where do you see farming in the future?       My wish is that people see local and sustainable agriculture as a necessity for the long term well-being of our environment and the generations that follow.  
Where would be your ideal location for your last supper, what would be your meal & music and who would join you ?     No brainer. The top of a mountain in North Carolina in the foothills of the Appalachians.  For me, it does not get any better than roasting a pig over an open fire with my dog, a good group of friends, and some bluegrass in the background. Atlanta has several breweries producing some of the best beer in the world so of course I  have to bring a few of those along as well.


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