Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers or agriculture industry workers. Evan Clendening with Coon Rock Farms is one of those industry leaders. The #FarmFeatureFriday campaign will run through December 2021 on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages and from August to December will feature younger farmers in the industry. Be sure to tune in each Friday afternoon on social and help show your support for our local farmers!
Some people are born with an innate love of agriculture and others stumble upon it in the middle of their life journey. In his early 20’s, Evan Clendening started experimenting with making his own cider, not realizing it would lead to a career in farming. “I wanted a cider that tasted just like apple pie right out of the still,” he said, “but once I got into it, I realized that I wanted to grow everything that went into the cider, like the apples. Ever since then, I haven’t been able to find a single thing that I don’t enjoy growing.” Currently the farm manager at Coon Rock Farms, Evan is learning everything he can and gaining hands-on experience that will one day help him start a farm of his own.
Since the 2004, Coon Rock Farm in Hillsborough has been providing fresh fruits, vegetables and meat products for their customers. Their sister company, Bella Bean Organics, provides organic fruits and vegetables to individuals across the state. A typical day on the farm for Evan starts early by walking the fields to check on all the animals. “All our animals have automatic water and food, so it’s not so much feeding them, but making sure they are safe and have everything that they need,” he said.
Once the animals have been taken care of, Evan heads to the field and the fridge to help put CSA boxes together for the week. These boxes are filled with seasonal products and delivered to the homes of interested customers. For the remainder of the day, you can find Evan doing any tasks that takes priority on the farm, from maintenance to marketing and farm operations.
“It can be a difficult industry because some people don’t appreciate all the work that goes into it, but there is truly no part of my job that I don’t enjoy,” Evan said, “it’s a passion. Being able to help maintain a field and see the crops and livestock that you raise come to fruition in a healthy way is incredibly rewarding.”
As Evan looks toward his goal of owning and operating a farm of his own, learning and implementing self-sustaining practices is top on his priority list. His ultimate goal is to own an operation that can run efficiently without having to source from outside brands. “When COVID-19 hit and all industries had to shift and readjust, the concept of self-sustained farming became vitally important to my mindset,” he said, “I would like to provide everything on my farm that is needed on a daily basis, like animal feed and seeds.” He plans to implement these practices along with no-till farming in a way that will help him not only succeed but create a healthy atmosphere for his crops, livestock and customers to visit and learn about the true nature of the industry.
As a young person in agriculture, Evan encourages others to keep persevering, find your niche and run with it. “Make sure you have a passion for farming before you jump into it because it will be that passion that drives you every day and makes each task feel like a choice, not an obligation,” he said, “there are many outlets you can pursue in the agriculture industry, so just be sure to do your research, find which area speaks to you and never give up on it.” Thank you, Evan for your hard work in the industry so far. We look forward to seeing where the future takes you!