Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers. Cindy Marion, with Dock Southern Farms, is one of those farmers. The #FarmFeatureFriday campaign will run through December 2021 on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Be sure to tune in each Friday afternoon on social and help show your support for our local farmers!
Agriculture and music are both things that originate in the soul and one family farm is tying both passions together to create a unique experience for their customers. Dock Southern Farms, located in Dobson, was started in 1890 by Will Southern and later passed down to his son, Dock Southern, who built the barns that still stand on the farm today. “I have always loved agriculture,” said Cindy Marion, Dock’s youngest grandchild, “playing in the cow pasture as a kid and watching my grandfather on the farm established that passion, making the farm immensely precious to me today.”
Cindy is the current owner and operator of Dock Southern Farm, but she is most well-known for her work as a child nutrition director, overseeing 18 schools in the county and being involved with our N.C. Farm to School program. “Working with the farm to school program and providing fresh, local foods for these kids has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done,” she said, “in fact, it is one of the things that drew me back to the family farm.” The COVID-19 outbreak of 2020 changed the lives of Cindy and her children in more ways than one and ended up bringing them all back to the family farm.
Prior to 2020, Cindy’s three children, Will, Peyton and Jack, were all working in the music and theatre industry in Nashville and New York. However, with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, those jobs were unfortunately lost, bringing all three children back to the farm. “It has been a hard experience in many ways but it has also brought us closer together,” said Cindy, “the kids are learning new skills and appreciating the hard work that goes into agriculture. They are doing things they have never done and I am grateful to them because I certainly could not have brought the farm back to where it is today without them.”
Although Dock Southern farms is still in a rebuilding period, they currently grow a variety of fresh berries and partner with many local farms across the community, including Patterson Farms Market & Tours, to provide fresh produce and locally made products to members of the community. “Currently for us it’s a lot of preparation, learning and partnering with farms around the area to provide products that our customers want, need and love,” Cindy said, “and we are also extremely passionate about agritourism and providing an experience on our farm that is not only unique but that our customers want to come back too.” Last fall, they provided local pumpkins, a variety of games, home-made apple cider and live music, performed by the family, for visiting customers as a way to partner with and engage the community. “Its been incredibly rewarding to combine our passions of agriculture and music in a way that not only we enjoy, but the public enjoys as well,” Cindy said, “and I think my grandparents would be proud to see the farm as it is today.”
Products from Dock Southern Farms can only be found at the farm, but the experience will make your visit completely worth while. “The fresher your food the more nutrients you get,” said Cindy, “there is an irreplaceable value to buying your products from your local farmers and it means more to us than you will ever know.”
While you are on the farm, be sure to visit the farm animals, including their donkey, Willie Nelson. In the future, Dock Southern Farms will continue to grow local berries and possibly even venture into raising small animals such as goats and sheep. They will also continue to focus on community education and providing experiences for customers to come and enjoy being on the farm. If you catch them on a live performance night you may get to hear their family favorite “Down to the River to Pray” or personal songs written by Will, Peyton and Jack. Be sure to look them up on your music streaming preferences!