Meet Johnson County residents Blaine and Anita Smith, who purchased a farm on Dug Hill Road in 2012. Compared to their years living in Charlotte, says Anita Smith, “the slower pace of life in Johnson County has a way of drawing you in.”
But the Smiths soon found out that farm life is hardly ever slow can be busier than ever before.
The Smiths started their self-described “micro-farm”, called The Farm at Green Gables, and have participated as a vendor selling eggs at the Johnson County Farmers Market. “We are producing our own garden vegetables, eggs, hay and raising six American Dairy Goat Association registered Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats, which require milking twice a day,” says Anita.
Blaine was raised in Michigan farming country, but he and Anita learned from many sources while they were starting their farm, including the Field School beginning farmer training program offered annually by the Appalachian RC&D Council (see www.arcd.org; courses begin again November 2017 and run through August 2018). According to Blaine, “we owe so much of this to the Field School and what we learned. We would have never known about resources and programs that have helped us.”
Johnson County is home to 13 quilt barns (see www.quilttrail.org) and when Anita discovered the Quilt Trail she knew she wanted the farm to join.
She attended the annual July Quilt Turning that the Quilt Trail organizers and volunteers hold at Farmhouse Gallery and Gardens in Unicoi. Seeing the antique quilts and hearing their stories told, got her inspired.
She decided that she would paint the quilt block herself as a tribute to her paternal grandmother, Lucretia (Creeta) Stepp Curtis.
“I own a hand-stitched quilt made by her, of the simple Crossroads pattern. Granny, as we all called her, was a very simple, frugal woman but a woman of great substance. She and my Papaw, Oval Curtis, raised six children in the southern Appalachian mountains of Logan County West Virginia. I have wonderful memories of their home always being a welcoming place with the smell of wholesome food cooking and plenty of storytelling by Papaw as we would sit in the swing with him.”
Anita also painted a second quilt board on the barn, of her own design, inspired by farm life. The barn is visible from Dug Hill Road.
The Farm at Green Gables is a new name for an older settlement, as evidenced by a small cemetery for the Minks Family , shaded under thick trees on the property with markers from 1921 to 1960, according to the Smiths. Found in a cottage on the property was an old box of letters from the family that contained interesting stories of days gone by. The Smiths continue to seek more information about the Minks family. If anyone has information to share, please email: [email protected]
The 3rd annual Quilt Turning to benefit the Quilt Trail is Wednesday July 19th at 12:00pm at Farmhouse Gallery and Gardens, Unicoi. The event features more than a dozen rare antique quilts and storytellers telling about history, family, faith, through the lens of these family heirlooms. Information and ticket sales at www.arcd.org or by calling 423-979-2581.