This page is a work in progress. Sadly, we did not keep up with all of our press over the years, so it may take a while to put everything together, but I’ll keep working on in. Until then, check out what we have put together so far.
The Flavor, NC crew came to our farm in Clayton to film on our first child’s due date (June 27, 2012). He was born almost two weeks later. We are proud to be one of the many farms highlighted on this great program.
Our first year selling at Western Wake Farmers’ Market (2009), the folks at Cary Magazine highlighted our market & took a great photo of Ben & I, back when we were Ben’s Produce. You can check the article out here. The picture is below.
Our first interview & professional photo shoot was with Edible Piedmont in the Spring 2011 issue. We were over the moon to be included as the local farm hero in the publication. We’re featured on page 23. You can access the publication here.
Meet the Farmers highlight in Cary Citizen. here.
Cary Magazine, Unsung Heroes. May 5, 2014. Here.
Ben Shields & Patricia Parker
In Good Heart Farm
“Give me a million dollars, and I’m not going to leave farming. It’s the only thing I ever want to do,” said Ben Shields. Despite a slightly raised eyebrow from his wife and farm partner Patricia Parker, it’s clear the pair have a heart for sustainable farming. And though it may not provide them with traditional riches, farming surrounds them with bounty and wealth in the form of food and community support.
Shields and Parker are the founders of In Good Heart Farm, a small family farm located in Clayton that serves the greater Cary area through its CSA program and at the Western Wake Farmers’ Market. The farm produces a huge variety of produce from herbs and salad greens to watermelon and strawberries. Farming practices, though not certified, are sustainable and organic, but the farm’s beginnings were difficult and sometimes uncertain.
“In the beginning, we started with nothing,” said Shields.
“We didn’t have a tractor for a year and a half,” added Parker. Without startup capital, the couple relied on money from their CSA members to fund the farm.
“It was important to me that we farm without debt,” said Parker. “Our CSA members are our bank, but they are way better than a bank.”
“They are our friends too,” finished Shields. Events like an annual planting party and October feast help Shields and Parker connect with their members, and vice versa. A new work-share program gives CSA participants a chance to contribute labor in exchange for a reduced share price.
Still, pay-as-they-go-farming is an ongoing challenge for the couple. Shields and Parker cite many instances when the community helped pull them through tight times, with donations of money, work and support. In return, the couple gives back at every opportunity.
Shields serves as the vendor representative on the board of the WWFM. And the two founded Farm It Forward, a program that distributes their produce to people who have limited access to fresh, local food. Partnering with groups like Advocates for Health in Action, WakeMed Energize, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and the Cooperative Extension Service, they’ve created a six-week program that provides In Good Heart Farm produce to parents and children who participate in cooking classes to learn how to prepare and enjoy the bounty.
“Asking us if community is important is like asking if air or water is important,” said Parker. “It really helps us survive and thrive. We need it.”
Despite long days, hard labor and Mother Nature’s often unpredictable ways, Shields and Parker feel the rewards of farming far outweigh the struggles.
“The rewards are different,” said Parker, comparing farming to a more traditional career path. Seeing the sunrise, appreciating all the seasons and involving their 2-year-old son, Elliot, in farm life top the pair’s list of advantages.
“We eat like kings and queens,” said Shields. “We enjoy the small luxuries.”
There’s more, but the kiddos are calling. I’ll post more as I can.