Back to Nature
Ocean Isle Beach residents Jason and Lauren Gore appreciate the old-fashioned way of doing things at Huckleberry Farm.
Jason and Lauren Gore are the perfect pair for running a farm.
As a child, Lauren learned to quilt and can food from her grandmother. As a teen, she worked for family-owned Graystone Farm in Reidsville, North Carolina. She competed and showed palomino quarter horses on a national level and was involved in 4-H and in the national Future Farmers of America (FFA). She grew tomatoes to sell for her college fund.
Jason fit right in when they started dating in eleventh grade. He fished, hunted and worked on Lauren’s grandparents’ tobacco farm near Winston-Salem, where they grew and cut hay each summer.
After one year of marriage, Jason, a graduate of North Carolina State University with a degree in agronomy, accepted a job opportunity in Brunswick County, where his parents grew up and were currently living. Lauren, an elementary education graduate with a science concentration and a graduate certificate in horticulture, was teaching third grade. They decided to try out beach life and moved from western North Carolina to a development in Ocean Isle Beach, selling Lauren’s two horses with the promise that they would eventually find land and start their own farm.
They quickly discovered they could not get enough space to grow everything they wanted. Seven years ago they purchased 6 acres and began the slow process of clearing the trees. And three years ago they made their dream come true, moving into the farmhouse they built themselves along with several other structures on the property.
Lauren recalls, “Our first crops of veggies were just for us. The quality of our food and knowing where it comes from became very important to us as a family, especially after our son, Wyatt, was born. We wanted to make sure we were eating the most nutritious and safest food we could get. We also began to think about the effects of pesticides and fertilizers and do research about how to grow things organically.”
It wasn’t long before friends and neighbors became interested in what the Gores, who were giving away their extra produce, were doing and the lifestyle they were living. Lauren says, “We kind of springboard-ed to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) from there.”
And so developed Huckleberry Farm, named after the classic novel Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and Lauren’s favorite line from the movie Tombstone, “I’ll be your huckleberry.” Even their German Wirehaired Pointer is named Huckleberry. Lauren says the name expresses the fun, carefree life on the farm.
Each week during the CSA season, members receive a bag of fresh veggies picked that day so they are the freshest for the customer. Extra veggies and eggs are sold to non-CSA members.
The Gores experiment to find out how much can be grown organically and sustainably in their one-third acre garden and two greenhouses. Typically, in the fall and winter they grow spring mix lettuce, kale, collards, cabbage, carrots, onions, leeks, Swiss chard, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, bok choy, micro greens, radishes, beets and turnips. Spring and summer crops yield lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, spring onions, peppers, green beans, okra, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, a few strawberries and blueberries.
“Our vision for the farm is to provide the community with local, organic, nutritious food,” Jason says. “So, we have worked really hard to improve the soil quality on our farm. It is a constant process of adding compost and various forms of organic nutrients to our soil.”
The Gores also have 27 egg-laying chickens and have been pasture-raising meat chickens, selling both eggs and meat.
In 2017 Lauren became interested in cut-flower production. She planted just as many flowers as veggies, and, surprisingly, they sold even better than the vegetables. The flowers are instrumental in attracting pollinators to the vegetable garden. Over the next three years, Lauren plans to expand the flower CSA program with dahlias, ranunculus and perennials like peonies.
The Gores also own three horses, and Lauren gives riding lessons. Most of her riding clients are children, but she has a few adult students too.
“I have had an obsession with horses since before I can remember,” Lauren says. “Riding lessons started as a way for me to share my love of horses with others and now provide the community with a chance to explore a different outdoor activity.”
All of this comes together to bring the Gore family much happiness on the farm.
“It is really crazy how each of our backgrounds and learning experiences worked perfectly together and helped us in ways that we never expected,” Lauren says. “I invite families to come here and experience farm life the way I grew up — petting and chasing chickens, pulling some veggies, collecting eggs, cleaning horse stalls and experiencing the calming presence of our horses. I hope everyone leaves tired, dirty and happy.”
Want to visit Huckleberry Farm?
6547 Old Shallotte Road, Ocean Isle Beach
Hours of operation vary seasonally, and visits and riding lessons are available by appointment.