While in college on the east coast, Dillion and DeAnna Prevette, owners of New Castle Farm visited “You-Pick Farms” and once they moved back to Wilkes, they learned the area didn’t have many of these types of farms. They already owned the land and it was a decision of what to do with the land to not only better serve their young family, but to serve their community as well.
The Prevettes chose New Castle as their farm name because of their desire to have a historical name for their farm. New Castle Farm is a “You-Pick” and working farm located on 70 acres in the heart of the Clingman community. They currently grow pumpkins and strawberries and recently added to their services a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription box.
“I grew up on a poultry and beef cattle farm,” DeAnna explains. (And) although different from what we do now, I do think it played a role in us taking on farming. We bought the farm a little over five years ago. We moved this way from Raleigh four years ago and really wanted to do something with the land.
“While in college we visited a lot of “you-pick” farms and realized once we moved back that there weren't a lot of them around here. I loved working outside and wanted something I could do to have a more flexible schedule with the kids which led to us having a strawberry and pumpkin farm.”
Dillon and DeAnna began planting their strawberry crop in 2019 and then opened their farm operation in the midst of the pandemic in 2020. While the pandemic wasn’t much of a hindrance to their operation, in 2019, the supply of materials along with the learning curve tended to be somewhat difficult at times.
“Our biggest obstacle was actually in 2019 when we were trying to learn how to plant the strawberries, get materials for it, and learn how to farm,” says Deanna. “Materials were a little hard to get at that time and if we could order them then we had to wait a long time to get them so that made it a little bit harder.
“Although many things were shut down during that time, due to the nature of our farm being outside, we didn’t have a lot of obstacles to overcome. We did take precautions in how we spaced people out in the field that year, but we didn’t have to take any special precautions due to the pandemic.
“I honestly think because everyone really wanted to go outside and do something it actually helped to a certain extent that we were an outdoor activity. People could have an activity to do with their family and it felt a little bit like normal since there wasn’t much they could do at that time.”
Dillon earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Biology at Campbell University and then went on to earn his Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Deanna earned her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education with a Minor in Horticulture. Albeit, neither degree prepared them fully for planting and growing, in addition to learning the business of agriculture and agritourism–their family agrees– it is rewarding. And their encouragement to others who want to start a farming operation–ask for help.
“I would advise them to ask for help,” DeAnna shares. “I can’t count the amount of people I have asked for help and advice. I have talked to any farmer that would talk to me and (also) our local extension agents. I feel like you can’t get enough advice. Then you get to use whatever parts of it fits your farm best. Even though we have been doing this for three years now, I’m still always asking other farmers for the way that they do things to see if we can do it better (too). My goal is to always be improving on the farm to be more efficient and to make the farm better each year.”
DeAnna adds, “Agriculture can be a finicky business to get in. You definitely have to have patience and understand that a lot of it can be out of your control due to the weather. But, it is definitely a rewarding one. We have truly enjoyed getting to see “the fruits of our labor”.
“Although we are harvesting strawberries and pumpkins, I think no matter what you are growing to a finished project, it is so rewarding to get to see that finished product knowing that you are the one responsible for that.”
For the Prevettes, faith and prayer is a big part of the day-to-day life of their farming operation.
"I would say Dillon and I had a really strong faith before farming,” says DeAnna. “But I know that during this process of running a farm it has definitely been strengthened. Farming is a hard job (and) although you are able to do a lot of the work on the farm to make sure that your crops succeed, there is still a lot that is out of our hands. The weather plays a huge role when farming. There’s only so much protection that we can offer our plants. With that being said, if our crop doesn’t do well then that affects our income.
“There have been many days where I would just go out into the field and pray the crops would be okay, knowing that how they do affects our income and how we are able to provide for our family and if we are able to continue to run the farm. I think having a relationship with the Lord knowing that no matter the circumstances that everything in the end will be okay is calming and reassuring with farming.”
New Castle Farm has recently added a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box subscription to their farm products. And future plans include a farm store and possibly adding blueberries or blackberries to their crops.
“Our goals right now for the farm is that we are able to open our store by next strawberry season,” explains DeAnna. “It is in the process of being built right now and we are hoping to be able to host people in that area. We are hoping that by having a store we are able to offer more items as it will provide cold storage and a place out of the weather.
“We just started a CSA this past year and we are hoping to grow it. Our CSA box is a vegetable box that people get each week for around 15 weeks from June to October. Each box has around six to 10 different types of vegetables and should feed around four to five people. Our new building will definitely help with that. As far as expanding what we offer, we have looked into possibly expanding into blueberries or blackberries, but haven't set that in stone yet.”
The Prevettes have two children, Liam who is three and Annaliese who is one. When Dillon and DeAnna made the decision to embark on this farming journey–they knew it was as much for their children as it was for themselves.
“The farm, as much as it is for us, it is also for our kids,” DeAnna says. “We hope that the farm in general is a tool that we can use to teach them about hard work, dedication, and serving others. One of our goals is to be able to serve the community that we live in. We try to serve it right now by donating things each year to different organizations. We hope that they will grow up seeing this and they will grow up to have a servant’s heart. Serving is one of our company’s core values and we hope we represent that well. We also hope that the farm will provide a legacy that our children can continue if they wish.”
To learn more about New Castle Farm and their hours of operation, visit their website at https://www.newcastlenc.com/ and follow along on their Facebook and Instagram pages on social media.
A sincere and humble thanks to New Castle Farm for allowing their story to be shared on the blog at Farmer Rhodes Granddaughter. http://www.farmerrhodesgranddaughter.com
All photos courtesy of New Castle Farm.