Brittany Kordick of Contrarian Farm is perfectly happy to admit that both herself and her farm are indeed contrarian. She has to do things her own way, and this drive has produced a farm that is wildly and chaotically organized, a beautiful extension of herself. In addition to the produce we partake in through Papa Spud’s, Brittany has goats and rabbits for milk and meat for herself. Her mother (who is the woman behind the Malus Hill Apple Eighths) owns the land and commutes to work in her orchards and Contrarian Farm is nestled among the trees. They sit on about 75 acres of land about an hour north of Winston Salem, right on the Virginia line in the breathtaking foothills.
Brittany has been farming for eight years in total, five years in her location now. She first started farming in Chatham County along with a partner until the owner of the land they were leasing wanted to sell. So her mother invited her and her partner to farm on her land. Brittany has been running the operation entirely on her own for about two years and truly making it her own. She went to school at Elon for Writing and Philosophy originally and realized that she didn’t want to make a career out of what she was studying, so she dropped out to pursue farming. She then went to Central Carolina Community College for Sustainable Agriculture and after getting through the basic classes, she decided she wanted to farm for real. She and her partner left school and started farming and she has been going ever since.
Brittany might be what you would call an idealist, except she determinedly puts her ideals into motion. When she moved to the location where she is now, she discovered that the soil was terrible. It was once a large monoculture of tobacco, corn, or soybeans and the fumigant that the farmer used on the fields completely destroyed the soil. They spent the first year of farming realizing that everything that they had learned didn’t work. Brittany has spent the past five years nourishing the soil back to life. On top of this she is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Sauratown Mountains, which is a beautiful sight but it creates a lot of wind. After a year of being at the farm, there was a windstorm that completely tore apart their hoop house. She is learning to work with the land she has and use her knowledge and experience in conjunction with understanding the challenges her farm faces. This is the first year that she is really beginning to notice a difference, the soil is beginning to improve and her plants are healthier. She grows spinach, arugula, tomatoes, peppers, squash, potatoes, and many different flowers. Her favorite vegetable to grow are peppers, when I asked where they were planted she pointed, smiled, and said “here is the pepper paradise!” She is growing red, yellow, green bell peppers, and poblano peppers. She explained with excitement that she finds delight in harvesting peppers and finding that perfect one that is completely unblemished. Knowing that she can grow the perfect pepper and have the satisfaction of picking it herself brings her so much joy. I asked her what her favorite part of farming is and she said: “just being able to do it.” It is challenging and relentless, but it is the lifestyle she has grown to love and she can’t imagine living otherwise. “I haven’t figured it out yet, but I can’t give it up”.
She also works as a line cook at a restaurant in Winston Salem and has found that working in a kitchen is incredibly valuable. She used to be a vegetarian, and during that time she didn’t really like vegetables. She would grow them and not eat them, but was so in love with the actual farming that she kept with it. Once she began to learn how to cook what she was growing and enjoy the food she sold, she could talk to customers about the best ways to cook certain things. Also, she now knows what chefs are looking for and why, and she can grow with that market in mind. It looks like Contrarian Farm has found its home and its roots grow deep. She can’t imagine moving again, her blood, sweat, and tears are in this land. She has plans for blueberry bushes and an asparagus patch in the future. She started with a blank slate of soil and has created a farm that is building and growing every year. Not only has she changed the land, her mentality has completely shifted as she has learned to work with the challenges. Contrarian Farm’s unique methods have lead to an evolving farm that will continue to flourish. Brittany’s love and hard work have gone into every single vegetable you eat from her farm, and you can taste the quality in each bite.
“I am done with apologies. If contrariness is my
inheritance and destiny, so be it. If it is my mission
to go in at exits and come out at entrances, so be it.
I have planted by the stars in defiance of the experts,
and tilled somewhat by incantation and by singing,
and reaped, as I knew, by luck and Heaven’s favor,
in spite of the best advice…”
–The Contrariness Of The Mad Farmer, Wendell Berry