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Livingston Creek Farm is a Simpler Life – and Fresh Produce

by | Apr 26, 2018 | Food & Drink, North Brunswick

Danny and Yolanda Graham offer locally harvested food, an event site and healthy outdoor recreation at Livingston Creek Farmers Harvest and Eatery in nearby Columbus County.

If you’ve ever wanted to take a break from the hustle and bustle and enjoy some time down on the farm, Danny and Yolanda Graham have created just the place.

Situated right over the Brunswick County line on 74/76 in Columbus County lies Livingston Creek Farmers Harvest and Eatery, an experience in country living four years in the making. The Grahams transformed what started as little more than 2 acres of land and an abandoned farmhouse into what is now a 115-acre celebration of the area’s local produce, fresh seafood, crafts, farm animals and all things country.

Livingston Creek Farm North Carolina

PHOTOGRAPHY BY Laura Glantz

In 2013 Danny Graham decided to trade his 25-year corporate career for a simpler life. After purchasing a bit of land 2 miles past the border in Columbus County, he set up his truck and trailer beside the entrance to the property and sold corn and watermelon out of the back. With Yolanda’s help, he also got to work creating his farm-life vision.

“I was raised on a farm and have always been really good at growing things,” Danny says. “I knew I wanted to sell produce when I left corporate America. I built the produce market first, then out of that came the seafood market, the craft shop and the nursery. We just kept growing!”

With the purchase of the land came a dilapidated, century-old farmhouse. Determined to ignore friends telling him to tear it down, Danny began the process of complete renovation. The result is Tessie’s Events Center, the farm’s centerpiece, named after Danny’s late mother. This restored farmhouse offers a rustic location for weddings, parties and other celebrations in a beautiful countryside setting.

All the produce sold at Livingston Creek is grown locally by farmers in Columbus, Brunswick and Pender counties. The Grahams have made it their mission to use the market to showcase local growers, some of whose families have been farming in the area for generations. The fresh fruits and vegetables available for purchase at any given time are bountiful and diverse, from pumpkins and watermelons to tomatoes, collard greens, eggplant, bell peppers, squash, turnips, mustard greens, potatoes and peanuts.

“I’ve met so many growers from so many places, some of which you’d be hard-pressed to find,” Danny says. “Someone will tell me about a grower, and then when I go into some of these places deep in the woods to find them, it’s so far off the beaten path it’s like walking back in time.”

When it’s peak season and the harvest is ripe, growers will call Danny or come by the farm, their trucks loaded down with baskets of vegetables. They sell their produce to Danny, who in turns sells it on a larger scale in his produce market. “We serve as an outlet for these people,” he says. “Some are on a fixed income, and this really adds to their earnings. The produce we buy from these farmers truly makes a difference in their lives.”

In addition to produce, Livingston Creek Farm also offers its patrons a variety of fresh seafood and locally made crafts. They also have animals and recreational opportunities. An acre corral serves as a home to two rescued American Mammoth donkeys, the largest donkey breed in the world. Other animals include horses, rabbits, ducks and chickens. The farm is named after the creek that runs through the property, and Danny and Yolanda invite visitors to fish, canoe, hike their 3-mile walking trail or even camp overnight within the property’s woods.

“People drive in sometimes to just hang out with the animals,” Yolanda says. “They might sit on our tire swing, have lunch at the picnic tables, play horseshoes and then they go on about their day.”

Recently retired from her career as an electrical engineer, Yolanda now joins Danny every day full time at the farm. Her mission is to expose the young children in the area to farm life and by doing so broaden their knowledge about food and where it comes from.

“We have kids who visit us from summer camps and preschool groups,” she says. “We take them to the garden to harvest some of the vegetables, just so they can ask questions and see where the food comes from and how it’s grown.”

Children aren’t the only ones the Grahams are hoping to educate with their food. Danny’s knack for cooking helps his customers, as he can easily tell people how to cook anything in the market.

Livingston Creek Farm

“People will come and point to a certain vegetable and ask what it is, what it tastes like or how to cook it,” Yolanda says. “We love getting unique or different things in that people don’t get to try as often. We see that as part of our mission as well.”

A former Marine, Danny is passionate about the importance of physical activity and taking care of one’s body. He hopes the continued evolution and expansion of Livingston Creek Farm will encourage people young and old to stop by and enjoy the fresh air and beautiful countryside.

“The whole farm lifestyle seems to be going by the wayside,” he says. “Kids barely go outside and play anymore. We really wanted to encourage experiencing the outdoors here at what we like to call ‘our corner of God’s country.’”

Livingston Creek Farm is open every day except for Christmas, and all the workload of running and operating the property falls entirely on the couple’s shoulders. From maintaining the facilities to caring for the animals to helping customers choose the perfect produce, Danny gets up every morning excited for whatever lies ahead.

“Every day I can’t wait to get here,” he says. “Everything I’ve done in my life has prepared me for now. With my wife alongside me, the sky’s the limit.”

“Like they say in the Marine Corps,” he adds, “‘if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.’ From the way we treat our customers to the way we treat our seafood, our produce and our animals, you’ll never see us offer anything less than our best.”

Life on the farm seems to suit Yolanda just fine as well. Both she and Danny agree that her decision to leave behind a corporate career in favor of country living was the right one.

“I’m definitely happier,” she says. “You don’t know how stressed you are until you’re not anymore. I realize now that I constantly spent my time worrying about things that I didn’t even know I was worried about.”

Livingston Creek FarmDanny says that the change that Livingston Creek Farm has made on his wife has been remarkable. “She was under so much stress, and now all that’s gone. Yolanda’s as happy as she’s ever been. Our children say they’ve never seen their mother like this.”

The Grahams are excited to expand Livingston Creek Farmers Harvest and Eatery even further in the year ahead. Work is already underway in the construction of a wedding pavilion to complement the farmhouse, and Danny plans to build several tree houses back in the woods for people to use for camping. The couple also hopes to increase the number of community events and offerings this year, including fish fries, barbecues, tractor shows, antique car shows, a fall harvest day and holiday hayrides with Santa. Danny and Yolanda are eager for the opportunity to invite new customers and familiar faces, young and old, to experience the farm and all it has to offer.

“I love our customers because they represent all of us,” Yolanda says. “They have incredible stories and outstanding recipes. We learn a lot from them, and I enjoy sharing this business, which doesn’t even feel like a business, with them.”

Want to go?

Livingston Creek Farmers Harvest and Eatery

49 Harvest Circle, Bolton
(910) 655-4333
livingstoncreek.com
Hours are 9 am to 6 pm daily.

 

Sponsored by ATMC

About The Author

Annesophia Richards

After spending a decade as an English teacher in Florida, Annesophia moved to Wilmington three years ago to be closer to family. She now spends her time freelance writing and raising her two small, very energetic children. She loves exploring all that makes North Carolina such a beautiful state, and she also enjoys traveling as much as family and time allow. Her writing appears in various parenting and local area publications. In her free time, she reads, runs, and competes in creative writing contests. She has received awards for several pieces of flash fiction. Her ability to tell a good tale is a talent that she uses nightly when tucking her kids in with a bedtime story.

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