Anything But Typical - Hoke County Farm
Tucked away in the rural roads of Hoke County is, from the road, what appears to be just a heavily wooded lot with a handsome brick home perched neatly within its boundaries. However, upon a closer look, you’ll see much more than what first glance would relay - an effervescent farm that matches the vibrancy of its owners.
The Lyons’ farming operation is anything but typical. You’ll find herb gardens, honey bee hives, fruit trees and vines, vegetables, various breeds of chickens, and rabbits. When not outside working the farm with her husband Clarence Lyons, you’ll find Mrs. Patricia Lyons in the kitchen canning jams, jellies, and preserves; crating blue, green, brown and white eggs from her hens; making soaps, and planning for her next endeavors which includes; becoming organically certified, erecting a seasonal high tunnel, adding more chicken houses, getting her kitchen certified for production and continuing to participate in each and every agricultural and business training she can find.
Though the Lyons didn’t start out their professional journeys as farmers, both were never too far away from agriculture. Their journey is a more rounded course. “I’m a third generation farmer,” Patricia states quite proudly. “My grandmother was a share cropper here in Hoke County and raised six kids on a farm by herself. My mother bought this five-acre farm and eventually we moved here.”
Before taking over the farm, the Lyons’ lived in Austin Texas. Mr. Lyons, retired from the U.S. Air Force, taught math in a middle school and counseled students. Mrs. Lyons worked in the school system, teaching, being a principal and a school administrator.
“We moved back to North Carolina and to this farm to take care of my mother and when we got here we looked at this land and realized that there was something special here,” said Patricia. “I started to find ways to learn everything…anything, which would help me with this farm. I wanted a healthy farm with happy healthy chickens, and accomplish something to be proud of, and so I started to learn everything from local agricultural representatives – including USDA.”
While holding onto a fresh egg he just retrieved from one of the many traditional hen-houses on the farm, Mr. Lyons is just as confident in his reflection. “It is hard work, but it is fulfilling to come out here and see that all your efforts of making a healthy strong farm leads to a product that you can be proud of – and it’s real, you can hold it, see it, and know your efforts go to something good.”
When not on the farm, you can find the Lyons on Wednesday’s at the farmers market on Murchison Road in Fayetteville. The market opened in May 2014, after students from Fayetteville State University were awarded a grant through the Ford Motor Company’s educational foundation. The market, managed by the university, helps students and local residence by providing them with access to fresh local foods, and helps generate a microeconomic market for local producers.
“I like being at the market,” said Patricia. “I can sell my eggs, jams and vegetables and there are students coming to buy them, and locals, and I know that they are getting a good healthy product, which is something that this area needs – access to healthy foods.”
What’s next for the Lyons? They have been working with their local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) District Conservationist, Renessa Brown, and have developed their personalized NRCS Conservation Plan. With that in hand, the Lyons have applied and have been approved through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for a seasonal high tunnel, pollinator habitat and an irrigation Conservation Activity Plan (CAP).
“The Lyons are just so proactive and eager to learn as much as they can, take their operation to the next level and create a working farm that is healthy and uses the resources wisely,” said Renessa.
But when addressing the future, Mrs. Lyons states it best, “I just want to keep learning, growing and doing everything.”
The Lyons farm is a testament to small farming operations across the state. The farm is an authentication of determinations, devotion, tutelage, and a desire to have one’s energies produce quality healthy products.
* Photo Caption: Patrical and Clarence Lyons on their farm in Hoke County.