About Us & FAQs

In Good Heart Farm (formerly Ben's Produce) offers vegetables, strawberries & flowers of the highest quality and taste in the Triangle from our farm in Clayton, NC. Our mission is to strive for healthier people, community, agriculture and planet by growing and sharing the best tasting food we can. Our farming practices meet and surpass organic guidelines but we choose not to be certified because we are confident the reflection of our practices in the quality of our produce as well as our relationship with you speaks to our commitment to healthy food and holistic agriculture. 2012 will be our third year farming independently, though we have been farming with family and friends for many years.

You can learn more about us in the 
Spring 2011 issue of Edible Piedmont (pp. 26-28).

About Our New Name, In Good Heart Farm 
In Good Heart has a lot of meanings, but we decided on the name based on the Old English use of the phrase. To say that the soil is in good heart is to say that it is healthy, in good cultivation, and in good spirit. To say that a person is in good heart is to say that they are cultivating wisdom, courage, and good spirit. Ben and I felt that our farm name should represent our vision and we couldn't think of a better representation of what we want to do and what we want to be in our world than In Good Heart. 


While Ben and I are the only full-time farmers at In Good Heart Farm, we receive much needed help from our community. Our CSA members help us out throughout the Spring when we have planting parties. Additionally, we have two part-time interns who help us out on a regular basis throughout the year.  

Anneliese (2013)
About Anneliese
Liese is our current apprentice. She's a full-time apprentice and resident on the farm, as of the new year. We are very lucky to have her in our lives! Here's what she has to say about her connections to us and In Good Heart Farm: 

My name is Anneliese Markle and I'm the apprentice at In Good Heart Farm! I met Ben and Patricia through NCSU's graduate program in Sociology, and not long after meeting them I began to spend as much time as I could with Ben and Patricia on the farm, and every time I visited it became more clear how right it felt to be there, learning and observing. Ben and Patricia became mentors to me in a very real, personal way, as well as teachers and role models and friends.

Last spring, a lot changed in my life. I found myself at one of those crossroads where I had to completely rethink my life plans and my goals, and I was terrified and lonely and unsure of my future, but I knew that I love farming and I wanted it to be a big part of my life. I asked Ben and Patricia about the possibility of an apprenticeship, and I can't believe I'm finally here! It hasn't been long, but I am so completely thrilled to have this opportunity. I have great friends and an awesome baby to work alongside, amazing food to eat and help raise, and hilarious chickens to watch throughout the day. I still get to see our dear, loyal customers--many of whom I think of as friends--every Saturday, and chat and tease with our fellow farmers at market.

If you pressed me to choose the most important aspect of this apprenticeship, it would be the process of becoming part of the community Ben and Patricia have built around their farm. Of the many things we discuss in sociology of agriculture is the way farming used to be seamlessly tied into communities, and how those connections have changed and diminished over time. The human connections I get to make through the farm are simply amazing, and I am very much looking forward to making more as my apprenticeship continues.

I want to close this introduction by sharing a poem from the Tao Te Ching, translated by Ursula K. LeGuin:

51. Love
 The Way bears us,
 Love nurtures us,
 Nature shapes us,
 and happenstance
 completes us.

 We worship the Way
 and honour love;
 for to live is
 to walk the Way
 and to honour love.

 The Way bears us;
 Love comforts us
 in the home that love
 has built for us.

 Craft without control,
 Gift without condition,
 Guidance without guile,
 Help without ambition --
 This is love.

P.S.: I'm keeping track of my adventures on the farm at sociophile.tumblr.com, and if you'd like to add me on facebook, I'm under the name "Anneliese Margaret Marvelous." 

Past Interns (2012)
About Aaron
Aaron Clark began his internship with In Good Heart Farm …..with a PBR.  He knew he was among friends and in for a blue ribbon experience!

Aaron has been a professional firefighter/EMT for 10 years and has worked in Antarctica, Washington D.C., Utah, and various departments in North Carolina.  Aaron has an A.A.S in Fire Science and is currently working on a second A.A.S. in Emergency Medical Science.

Apart from the fire/EMS community, Aaron loves being a part of the local food and craft beer communities.  When not attending class or helping out at In Good Heart Farm, Aaron is likely brewing another batch of beer at the Wanderlust Community Homebrew Co-op.

About Meredith
Meredith Rike is convinced that she had not truly lived until she pulled her first vegetable out of the ground (she thinks it was a potato).  Lucky for her, that experience coincided with her internship at In Good Heart farm and her friendship with the wonderful team there.  

Since finishing her undergraduate degree at Smith College in 2007, Meredith has been working in various capacities in the advocacy and non-profit world.  In addition to her time on the farm, Meredith also currently works as a Developer at Richir Outreach and is an enthusiastic partner in the Wanderlust Homebrew Cooperative.  

Meredith is passionate about building community around her and fostering the local food systems that feed it.  She is proud to be a part of the team at In Good Heart farm.

Frequently Asked Questions

To answer some frequently asked questions, I'm going to post some specific questions asked of us by a CSA member when he and his partner were considering joining our CSA (they did). We think these are good questions and we encourage you to ask us and other farmers about our farming practices. 

What and how much should we expect to get? 
Our CSA share sizes vary, so the amount of produce you receive is dependent upon whether you have a small, regular, or large share. You can refer to the brochure here to get a good idea of the share size, as well as the approximate contents by month. You can also get a good idea of what our shares look like and what they contain in our Summer CSA and Fall CSA photo albums on our Facebook page. While share sizes are approximately worth $20 or $30 per week (that's what members pay), we always strive to not only produce bounty, but also to share in it with our CSA members. 

When and where are pickups?
We have three pick up locations (one at the Western Wake Farmers Market [Saturdays], one in Raleigh 5 points [Tuesdays], and one here on the farm [Wednesdays]). 
How do you fertilize your crops?
We add nutrients to the soil using cover crops and crop rotation. We also use compost. We have purchased compost from the city of Raleigh in previous years. We are currently making our own compost with scraps from Pullen Place in Raleigh and brewer's grain from Natty Greene's Pub and Brewing Co. in Raleigh. We will also start using the chicken tractor to allow the chickens to clean up old areas as well as fertilize with their poo (of course, we'll rotate often so they don't kill the soil). 
When/if you need to irrigate, what's your water source?
We irrigate when we don't have enough rain and when we transplant seedlings. We have well water that is available to us on the farm. We use drip tape and sometimes we use an overhead watering system (basically, a sprinkler - and usually when we just put in new transplants). This is the same water we use in our home.

What, if anything, do you do for pest control?
Pests & disease are both very complex issues, but we take an approach of pest & disease management and not elimination. In terms of pest management, we begin by farm-scaping and planting crops that encourage beneficial insects with food and habitat (those critters that eat or otherwise kill the critters that eat our plants - e.g., wasps lay their eggs in green horn worms - green horn worms can decimate our tomato crops, but when the wasps lay their eggs in them, their larvae feed off of the worms - cruel, I know, but that's the food chain for ya). We also work hard to improve our soil and boost the natural pest & disease resistance of the vegetables. The better the soil quality, the better our plants are able to fend off pests & disease. As a last resort, we apply organically approved pesticides when needed. We use them as little as possible, as they require extra work and are quite costly. Two examples of said pesticides are insecticidal soap to manage aphids and nolo bait to control the grasshopper population. Most of the time, we allow for some minimal pest damage to our produce and we also let some crops act as catch crops (e.g., dill weed attracts the heck outta caterpillars that would otherwise eat our more important crops - we're willing to lose some dill for the cause). 


We'll add additional questions and answers as we receive questions from folks. Please feel free to post questions here, on Facebook, or send them via email at BensProduceNC@gmail.com. 

How much land do you use and how do you use it? Do you have any high or low tunnels?
We currently (as of 1/19/12) have 1/2 acre in production and 2 1/2 acres in cover crop. This Spring and Summer we will have 2 acres in production and 1 acre in cover crop. We have three high tunnels (self-built) and 8 low tunnels (also self built).