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Meet the Newcomers: Alan and Susan Fox of The Mushroom Hut @ Fox Farms

By Alex Alesi, fall communications intern

When ASAP’s Farm Tour kicks off next weekend, you’ll have the chance to learn from and explore more than 30 family-owned farms spread throughout Western North Carolina. Many of these farms are longstanding tour participants and will be familiar to those of you who attended last year and in other years past. More than a dozen, however, will make their Farm Tour debuts in 2012.

This week’s new tour participants are Alan and Susan Fox, whose Burnsville farm The Mushroom Hut @ Fox Farms is home to corn shuck dolls, necklaces of local stone, and Bloody Butcher corn.

The Mushroom Hut @ Fox Farms
Alan and Susan

Q: You’re new to the Farm Tour! Are you also new to farming?
We have been farming to some degree all our lives, and our parents were farmers. We are native to these mountains. We had to start “making” our farm work for us after 2006. I was working as a retail merchandiser and was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had to go through a mastectomy and chemo and had many complications from the chemo. My husband had to take me to many doctor appointments, and, long story short, he lost his job because of it. So, the only thing to do was to take a look at what resources we had (the small farm, approximately two working acres) and make it work! This has been hard because we more or less have to work around my health. We don’t have interns or other help because we can’t work on a “schedule.”

Q: What will visitors see and experience at your farm during the Farm Tour?
A: We hope to show the Bloody Butcher corn that we make cornmeal from. If the corn is dry enough, we hope to grind some as a demonstration and offer it for sale. If not, we will still be grinding some soon. We’ll show visitors the Mushroom Hut and logs and talk about growing. We hope to provide some info about the value-added products we have and make.

Our farm has dairy goats, chickens (for eggs), and a hog. We make farm-fresh jellies, jams, and flower essence jellies, all made from product on the farm. We grow a few hops, which we make jelly and soap from, and we should have heirloom Oxheart tomatoes.

We do workshops and classes through Mayland Community College (Yancey Campus), and have classes coming up this fall to tell people about. The classes are here on the farm and at the school.

We make crafts that will be available, like corn shuck dolls, Native American crafts, soaps, hand-crafted tiles and other clay works, and necklaces that I call “rocks on a string” from local stones we gather from the garden (Bladed Kyanite, Epidote, Hornblende, Quartz, and more).

We also have a certified, on-farm kitchen facility that we call “The Mountain Kitchen.”

Q: What’s your favorite fall crop to grow, or your favorite thing about fall on your farm?
A: Our Bloody Butcher corn and cornmeal.

More Farm Tour links:
Complete list of participating farms + more tour information 
Purchase your pass online

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