Meet Charles McNair, new grower at the Freedom Farm, formerly known as the Urban Farm, at Washington Park. Check out his story below and stay tuned for more info on the growing community connections happening at the FREEDOM FARM!
Here is Charles’ story in his own words…
Grew up in a rural environment until attending college in 1988. While growing up we lived next door to our grandparents, who owned the land we lived on, as well as rented out other land they owned to local farmers who planted on a large scale. We raised our own pigs and chickens and planted, harvested, and stored the bulk of our own food, only having to purchase certain items for consumption. My grandfather and grandmother taught me about farming and agriculture from preparing the land for fertility, to breaking up the land, to planting, weeding, watering, harvesting, and storing (canning, freezing, drying ,etc). We grew butterbeans, greens, peas, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, etc. We also had fruit trees and plants such as strawberries, pears, apples, cherries, scuppernongs, purple grapes, plums, watermelon, cantaloupe, etc.
During the summer months, grandfather would come to the window to call my brother and I to awaken and get started to “water the collards” before it got hot. We also would pick cucumbers for money for our cousin, who was a large scale farmer. My grandparents also modeled and taught us about being good neighbors by sharing and/or trading what we had grown with our neighbors.
Graduated BA in Religious Studies with a minor in Anthropology from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1993. Trained grassroots organizer through the Childrens Defense Fund and Midwest Academy. Helped to open and establish Dillard Academy Charter School in 1998. Worked there until 2003 as an Executive Administrative Assistant. Returned to work at Dillard Academy in 2008 and was surprised to see the garden initiative and WFI. Being able bodied and young and experienced with agriculture, I jumped at the opportunity to start working with the earth again and teaching the youth what my grandparents taught me about the earth and proper respect for it and the value of working smart and working efficiently and when needed, working hard. When the opportunity came open for Washington Park, I was overexcited to have a larger, more independent project to throw my energies into while teaching grownups the value of organic and sustainable agriculture.