Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers. Francie Dunlap, with Peace N Peas Farm, 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!
Some of you may recognize this face that went viral during the COVID-19 pandemic as one local farm caught the attention of individuals both in and outside of the agriculture industry with their pet donkey Mambo. Peace N Peas Farm has been operating as a family farm since 2008. Francie Dunlap and her husband did not grow up in the agriculture industry but always had a love for animals and farming. “My husband has always had a love for gardening and when we had children they all wanted animals of their own, including horses,” Francie said, “so honestly, our farm just grew out of those small passions.”
Today, Peace N Peas Farm in Charlotte grows a variety of fruits and vegetables, including blueberries, cherries, figs and plums, as well as raises bees for honey and is home to a variety of other farm animals, including Mambo the donkey. In 2020, the farm started charging a small fee for Mambo to appear on zoom calls and meetings across the country, and it all started as a joke on a happy hour zoom call. “My friends and I would have happy hour zooms during the week and they always loved seeing the chickens and Mambo in the background,” Francie said, “it all started as a joke. I had no idea it would grow as big as it did, but people are still booking him!” Mambo has even been featured on a variety of news and entertainment platforms, including The Kelly Clarkson Show! According to Francie, Mambo loves the attention of being on camera and even lets her dress him up in a variety of clothes, hats and costumes.
Mambo and the chickens will also play games on zoom, including Never Have I Ever and Bingo. “It’s been a silver lining in the midst of this pandemic,” Francie said, “the stream of income has been nice to help us out on the farm, but the true joy has come from seeing people’s reactions to the animals and watching the smiles on their face.” Although Mambo has decreased the amount of calls he participates in to about five or ten per week, you can book him for your next zoom meeting through their website, https://dangrooster.com.
In addition to the farm animals on-site, Francie’s daughter Kelsey operates Dunlap Dressage to interested students each day. Kelsey has won various awards and medals through her own riding and now seeks to teach others her love and passion for the sport. In addition to teaching lessons and training riders to work with their horses, Kelsey also is successful in the purchase and sale of horses for individuals that need help navigating the process. More information, including how to contact Kelsey, can be found on their website at https://dunlapdressage.com.
Although there is no typical day on the farm, Francie can often be found feeding animals, attending zoom meetings with Mambo, harvesting crops in the garden, managing the bee hives and collecting honey. “Farming can be difficult when you put your heart and soul into something and it doesn’t work out,” she said, “but seeing the fruit of your labor and being able to share that with friends and customers makes all the hard times worth it.”
Products from the farm, including produce and honey, can be found on-site or through their website. “Eating local is better for your health and helps support those in your community,” Francie said, “but more than buying local, people should know how to grow their own food. Start small, with your favorite fruit or vegetable, and watch how much you enjoy reaping the benefits of your hard work.”
Francie and her family love living in the present and taking in every moment, so there is no telling what the future holds for their farm. “We will always continue to provide for our customers and do our best to bring a smile to the faces of those around us,” she said, “but we are open to new opportunities that come our way.” When she is not working on the farm or attending zoom meetings with Mambo, you can find Francie enjoying a moment to herself and watching Tik Tok.