By Kay Whatley, Editor
Imagine driving along an NC roadway, and coming up to a small town. As you drive by the Town Limit sign, you see a large field of solar panels generating energy for the town.
Coming in to town there are signs for organic farms. Near Town Center, you pass a park-like area full of new trees. It’s not just your imagination: it is the Town of Bunn NC.
Bunn is situated in Franklin County, about halfway between Raleigh and Rocky Mount. The town council and local farmers have embraced green energy and organic farming, giving Bunn a “green” image.
Starting September 27, 2013, the Town is planting Centennial trees as part of its 100-years celebration. Residents can stop by and take photos as the new trees and park benches are installed.
The Centennial Team has coordinated a face-lift to the Bunn by-pass area. A more scenic drive is coming, with help from local businesses — including Taylors Nursery, Mr. Landscape and Chris’s Greenhouse — and Bunn High School students who helped to build the new park’s benches The face lift to the Bunn by-pass is scheduled to be complete by October 4, 2013.
Last year, O2 Energies constructed a solar farm to provide power for part of the town. Local farmer Chad Ray provides sheep to keep the grass down around the solar panels. The sheep eat the grass, so that the solar field is low mown. The grass-fed sheep are then, well, served as a healthy and hormone-free alternative to store-bought meats.
Carvel Cheves’ farm is a hop, skip, and jump from the solar field. His Clover C Farm raises hormone- and antibiotic-free lamb, which they sell alongside wool, eggs, and hay. In addition to meat, Cheves’ sheep yield wool and wool products.
Just like Bunn, Cheves uses solar energy to power half of the farm’s water system.
Cheves partnered with Mann Mullen, and Karl Hudson of Rare Earth Farms, which offers pasture-raised beef and free range eggs at the NC Farmer’s Market in Raleigh. Rare Earth is AWA approved for their animal husbandry practices.
Mann Mullen farms in Bunn, and Karl Hudson farms in Zebulon. As Rare Earth Farms, they work to tell the story of their all-natural, grass-fed, grass-finished Angus cattle operation to local consumers. Their cows are raised in lush pastures that are continually rotated to maintain the highest levels of soil and grass. The farm management and animal husbandry standards used reduce the stress levels of the animals compared to commercial feed-lots. Hudson and Mullen use sustainable farming practices and have taken Rare Earth Farms to the highest levels of quality beef, free of steroids, antibiotics, artificial coloring or preservatives.
A little further up the road (Route 98) you’ll find Vollmer Farm. At different times of the year, this family farm provide ingredients for salads, side dishes, and desserts!
Organic lettuce, sweet corn, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries can be picked or purchased from their farm market. Vollmer Farm grows pumpkins in time for Halloween, and after you pick a pumpkin you can play on their farm-built “back forty” — lots of fun things to do. Summertime, those coming to buy watermelon and cantaloupe can stay awhile and enjoy ice cream right at the Vollmer Farm Market.
Take a turn back toward town, pass the middle school, and visit Ray Family Farms. This organic family farm on Pearces Road, while technically a Louisburg address, is close to Bunn. The Ray family produce beef, pork products, turkeys, chickens, and eggs. Their pasture-raised Belted Galloway cows are used in the farm’s beef products, including filet mignon, ribeye, ground round, and special “doggie boxes” for pets. Pasture-raised hogs grow fat and live comfortably, eventually providing for farm customer in the form of bacon, sausage, ribs, ham, and more. Their chickens and turkeys are also pastureraised, and available in all the standard cuts — plus eggs.
Working with other area farms, Ray Family Farms offer honey and dairy products — including butter and cheese — at their on-the-farm Old Thyme Farmers Market.
So, the next time you are traveling the NC roadways and want to see some “greenery”, come visit Bunn! Take a look at this changing small town. Check out the solar farm, visit family-run organic farms, and sit under a Centennial tree. Enjoy this old town as it moves into a greener, more sustainable next 100 years.