Harold Long was born with the farmers blood, when he went to get his farmers number he received none other than his very own father’s number, Mr. Isaac Long.
Harold, an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, was one of ten children. He remembers growing up that the food they ate came from the land; farming, rearing livestock, hunting, fishing, and foraging were all a part of life. With his wife Nancy, of Swedish heritage, they still maintain the old homeplace on Jenkins creek along with a newer farm of 32 acres. “We wanted to provide good food for others besides just the families needs.” Nancy says.
The Longs not only provide great food for many people in their community they are also part of a small contingent of farmers who grow heirloom varieties for market. There are many farmers who shy away from heirloom crops; rumors fly about how they don’t produce a yield, they are harder to grow, and people won’t buy them.
The Longs would beg the contrary. Later this year the family is slated to open up a farm store and gallery at their farm in Murphy, North Carolina. The Old Community Store served the people of Grape Creek before there were even roads present, once again its door will be open and perhaps the bygone days of gathering at the general store will return to the little community.
“We are able to provide food where taste is the object versus how well it ships. Heirloom varieties ensure that seed is available for the future.” Nancy says,”Hearing the story of heirloom seeds is like listening to a conversation passed on from one family member to an another.”
Harold and Nancy are visionaries; their farm combines traditional Cherokee varieties like the Cherokee Tan Pumpkin, Lazy Housewife beans, and NC Candy Roaster squash with new favorites such as the Japanese Climbing Cucumber, Solar Yellow Carrots, and German Giant Radishes. Besides growing food using only organic growing practices, the entire family is immersed in art. Harold is a self taught Cherokee Potter as well as produces white oak splits for traditional basket makers. Travis Long, Harold and Nancy’s son, is a talented photographer with many awards under his belt.
In addition to vegetables the Longs are preserving the genetics of Heritage Breed chickens. Varieties which can be found at their farm include: French Black Copper Marans, Golden Cuckoo Marans, Buckeyes, Speckled Sussex, Creasted Cream Legbars, and Welsummers. And the eggs ranging from dark chocolate brown to sky blue are just as diverse as the flock of hens.
Make a trip out to Cedar Valley Farmers Market in Murphy, NC and visit the Long family on Saturdays from 9am – 1pm.