Written by Gaby Carstens, Mountain People’s Co-Op Vice President
Down an old West Virginia gravel road, we drove, the autumn colored leaves fell over us from the tall trees that appeared as though they had lived there forever. The sun peeked through the trees, slowly helping to dry the muddy ground the recent fall rain had left behind. “I haven’t really spent any time in Maidsville”, I told Tia, the grocery manager at Mountain People’s Co-op. Neither of us had been there before, we discovered, but we were so glad to be on our way. Questioning each “left or right” turn decision we made, we would eventually arrive at The Magic Moon Beam Farm.
[They] scattered around the front of her property, clucking and hopping around like happy chickens do.
A woman named Tammy and a few of her family dogs, sweetly welcomed us to explore her very own operation. We visited on behalf of the Mountain People’s Co-op board to see where the magic happens— the place where her organic produce is grown for our community to enjoy. It was clear to me, right away, that Tammy is proud and passionate about her farm as she explained how it came to be. She shared with us how she took it one step at a time, carefully planning her farm’s expansion as she always had her children’s well-being to consider. Listening to her, I could feel her warmth; she’s one of those special people who radiates kindness without trying.
Our tour began with a walk over to the chicken coop. “Tell me when you’re ready,” she said, with her hand on the latch, ready to pull open the coop door. Tia and I couldn’t help but to giggle as the chickens scrambled out of their coop, like school children let out for recess. Then, she opened another door and all of a sudden, we were standing in the middle of at least 60 chickens. Brown, white, and some black Sex Link chickens scattered around the front of her property, clucking and hopping around like happy chickens do. They hobbled away and had the freedom to strut where they pleased.
We crunched through the leaves as we walked to a small building where several heat lamps hung from the ceiling. Tammy told us that she grows her own seeds and if she can’t start a plant from a seed she will not grow it. I found myself becoming more impressed with her as she spoke of her methods. “This is a woman who loves what she does,” I thought, as she told us about the thousands of seeds she sows inside of the little building.
I sensed her immense gratitude for the creatures as she spoke of their contribution to the farm’s magical dynamic.
The high tunnel is located just a short distance from the seed house. I walked inside the spacious green house; my eyes were drawn to the transparent roof, featuring a red and orange leaf collage created by November’s arrival. The garden seemed to be resting now—all of the produce had already come and gone. I imagined the vibrant colors that would return as Tammy talked about the abundance of tomatoes, green beans, squash, peppers, and kale that flourish each year inside these walls. Through diligent experimentation, over nearly a decade, she has found ways to protect her crops without ever using pesticides or insecticides. She plants herbs and flowers such as tobacco, lavender and nasturtium that will benefit her garden by attracting a variety of pollinators and helpful insects. So many hummingbirds, spiders, bees, lady bugs, toads and praying mantises will work collectively to have a positive impact on each season’s yield. I sensed her immense gratitude for the creatures as she spoke of their contribution to the farm’s magical dynamic.
We walked out of the green house and took just a few steps toward a white wooden box with a couple of drawers. We were looking at a Langstroth hive which housed over 30,000 hard- working bees. Some of them were out, crawling and buzzing around the box as if they wanted to make the best of the days sunny, dry weather. “I sit by the hive all the time, so the bees will know me,” Tammy explained, perhaps sharing the secret to her success with the thriving colony. We bid farewell to the bees and then walked back to the driveway to say our own goodbyes.
Just before we left, I asked Tammy, “What does this farm mean to you?” She paused for a couple of seconds and then told me, “It is my peace”. After today’s experience, I saw for myself that Tammy’s love and dedication is what makes the magic happen at The Magic Moonbeam Farm.
You can taste the love in all she grows, and I am grateful that she continues to share her “peace” with us.
As a community, we are fortunate to have access to the fruits of her labor through our own Mountain People’s Co-op grocery store, the place where she sells the majority of her goods. You can taste the love in all she grows, and I am grateful that she continues to share her “peace” with us.