Each Thursday, ASAP’s programs take you behind the scenes of their work. Our development department has the opportunity to hear about ASAP’s impact first-hand from farmers. This week, they share Larry Stepp’s encouraging story to show that we can transform our food system with your support.
From ASAP’s Development and Communications Team
Farmers are at the core of ASAP’s mission, and your support of ASAP—this time of year and year-round—allows us to help area farmers thrive. One such farmer is Larry Stepp of Stepp’s Plants. Stepp’s is a third-generation farm in Flat Rock, NC. They grow and sell bedding plants, vegetable plants, hanging baskets, roses, shrubs, and fresh asparagus in the spring. During the summer and fall, they grow raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries.
“This was my grandfather’s land for more than 40 years,” Larry shares. “I’ve been growing on the farm for about 10 years now, and I’ve farmed full-time since 2007.”
Larry’s father and grandfather grew apples, but Larry says that he and his family—like many of WNC’s creative, intrepid farmers—have reinvented the farm. “We’re doing a different adventure. Apples have such a great water need. With berries and asparagus and such, it’s smaller acreage, but more productive.”
ASAP has been with Stepp’s on their adventure, making important connections so they can increase their sales and profitability. “ASAP has gotten us plugged in to different buying sources,” Larry says. Buyers we’ve connected him to include Ingles, distributors such as Mountain Food Products, and restaurants like Early Girl Eatery.
What’s more, Stepp’s Plants is an Appalachian Grown™ certified farm. As such, Larry has been able to access our professional promotional materials and funds to market what he grows. “Appalachian Grown is an easy recommendation for the customer,” he says. “They know that what they’re buying is truly local. It’s great for consumer confidence. It identifies us.”
And, Stepp’s Plants is also listed in our Local Food Guide. Larry shares that their listing results in a number of calls per year. He adds that the guide is helpful “because more people see our name, and they’re more comfortable with buying our products.”
Ultimately, ASAP—with your support—has helped make Stepp’s Plants a viable business and has helped keep the Stepp family farming. Larry’s father shares, “I could have sold this farm for $35,000 per acre, but no way. It was important for me to keep it in my family for my son and my grandkids.” We agree.
If you also agree, donate to ASAP today. Any gift made to ASAP this holiday season will be matched, dollar for dollar. CLICK HERE to give easily and securely.
Tags:Appalachian Grown, donate, Early Girl Eatery, farm, farmer, Farming, Ingles, Local Food Guide, Mountain Food Products, Stepp's Plants