Taylor’s Blueberry Farm in Winnabow a Retreat
Darryl and Linda Taylor have a lot to be joyful about — a strong family and a thriving farm they built from scratch. And they want to offer some of that bounty to the public.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Michael Cline
After zigzagging a few miles down Town Creek, just past Phillips Nursery and Skeeter Hawk Road, visitors will arrive at 1719 Honey Do Lane, a quaint tract in the Winnabow community. Here, the piney woods and royal oaks open up to lush green fields and a small, tranquil fishing pond.
Visitors can’t miss the remarkable black bull, Moses, relaxing in the pasture, surrounded by spritely goats, a few silent cows and a duo of Shetland ponies munching on the grass. Geese honk near the pond, and the four family dogs quietly play in the driveway. The main attractions, however, are the blueberry bushes, sown perfectly in rows with wide enough space for a leisurely stroll while picking.
“When we planted, they were nothing but a stick … they had no leaves, just a root mass,” Linda recalls. “Before long we were asking people to come out and pick them, because we just had so many.” A level orchard spotlights where dainty white and pink flowers yield a deep green berry before ripening into a striking deep-blue in the late spring.
Brunswick County is not known as an ideal spot for growing blueberries, due to humid summers and sandy earth. Most blueberry varieties require a lower pH than many of the other small fruit crops, but pesticides are seldom required. Thanks to natural fertilizer like food scraps from Whole Foods and patient dirt farming, the Taylor family sees that the berries keep ripening.
These bright green bushes are a classic Southern highbush with blueberries that have a flavor that is best for making preserves, Darryl says. “They’re just so sweet,” he adds.
Just about as sweet as this family.
Darryl and Linda are southeastern North Carolinians to the core. They married on July 19, 1991, and first lived in Richlands, then Jacksonville before moving to Brunswick County. Darryl took a job as a lineman at Brunswick Electric and Linda at the sheriff’s department in New Hanover County. As nature enthusiasts, they made frequent trips around the county to find the perfect spot to start a farm for when Darryl eventually retired.
“It’s how I grew up, and I knew I wanted to get back to basics,” Darryl says. They began to search for the right land and by 2008, “We had been everywhere, all over the county. And then we found the perfect spot.”
Taylor’s Blueberry Farm has more than blueberries. They also sell organic, free-range eggs for $2 a dozen; hand-caned, pectin-free preserves for $5; fresh goat milk and cheese; and assorted baked goods. They have honeybees. Game fowl. Saw-milled rough-cut lumber. And starting this June, they have even bigger plans.
“We’re going to get to making fresh ice cream for the summer,” Linda says. “And we’re planting peach and cherry trees. We’ll have Boer meat goats and Duroc hogs. We’ve got the Berkshire hogs. All the animals are registered.”
The Taylors hosted a Grand Opening Family Day on Saturday, June 17. Their daughter, Melissa Taylor, who populates the Facebook page and coordinates events, says the pick-your-own blueberry business is held during summer hours and is updated on their page. In addition to a fun family picking event, Melissa is excited about presenting her pride and joy, Emalyn.
“My daughter Emalyn reins as a National Baby Miss Sweetheart of the USA, and she is collecting non-perishables from other queens who come out,” Melissa says. Photographs from the event will be featured on the Facebook page and the food drive will help stomp out hunger.
One can’t help but notice the contentment that beams from each of the kind faces of the Taylor family. They have a little slice of heaven here on earth with their newly planted orchards and happy little goats, far removed from the bustle and lights of the rapidly developing town.
Darryl is trying to restore some of those overlooked practices of farm life back to the community. “Support for small farms is up,” he says. “People get a little tired of the commercial products. They’re looking for all natural, local, hand-made.”
The Taylors invite the public to get in on some of that natural goodness, from locally crafted bird houses with signs like “Home Tweet Home” to picking their renowned blueberries.
“We want kids to be able to come out here and pet the goats, to know where their food comes from,” Darryl adds.
Visitors can see the results of their faith and hard work in their current bond with the environment.
“This is God’s creation, and it’s all connected,” Darryl says. “Everything feeds into the next. And we just want to be able to share some of that with the world.”
Taylor’s Blueberry Farm is a wholesome place, a genuine place, and an honest-to-goodness North Carolina farmstead. And all are invited.
Want to Go?
Taylor’s Blueberry Farm
1719 Honey Do Lane, Winnabow
Facebook: Taylor’s Blueberry Farm
During the picking season, hours are Monday through Friday from 8 am to 8 pm and Saturday from 8 am to 4pm. Closed on Sundays.
Admission price is only $3, and it covers a hayride, bounce house, giveaways, animal petting, pony rides, hotdogs and fresh treats. Local and small business vendors will feature healthy living, clothing, beauty-care and special offers in their tents. Pick your own blueberries will be $4 a pound; $5 a pound if they pick.