#EscapeWithNCAg is a year-long series that will focus on agritourism across North Carolina. Many farms, wineries and other agricultural businesses in our state offer events such as tours, yoga, educational classes, pick-your-own events and festivals, to entertain the public and teach them about our state’s number one industry. Each Thursday, we will feature a new site for you to visit with friends or family. Stay tuned and learn how to escape the stresses of life by diving into agriculture!
When your first date is spent with highland cows, a future in farming is nearly inevitable! Taylor and Fran Montgomery never thought that they would end up in the farming business. “I grew up riding horses and working in the veterinary field, so I had a strong connection to animals but not necessarily farming,” Fran said. “I dreamed of being a vet when I grew up, but life got in the way and I ended up taking a different path. However, my love for animals continued to be strong, leading me to purchase a highland cow of my very own.” Milly, Fran’s first highland cow, is one of many inspirations behind Montgomery Sky Farm and the cornerstone of the operation today.
On their very first date, Fran asked Taylor to come and meet her highland cow, Milly. During that date, they not only felt a spark for each other but also for the love of farm animals and a desire to share that passion with others. “We founded Montgomery Sky Farms in 2018 on our property, which is over 100 years old,” Fran said. “This land used to be a working dairy farm, so it has a lot of history within the agricultural industry and we are proud to be restoring the land to something that people can come and enjoy again.” Today, the farm raises registered Scottish Highland cattle and Valais Blacknose sheep, while also home to a variety of kune kune pigs and rescue farm animals, including goats, a mini horse and alpacas. They also raise a variety of produce each year such as heirloom tomatoes, squash, peppers, root vegetables and flowers.
At the start of 2020, people across the world began to develop a need for outdoor activities that were safe for the family to enjoy together. Taylor and Fran worked to fulfill that need by opening their farm up to tours and other interactive events. “We never intended for this farm to become a hub for agritourism, but when that very first tour sold out in five minutes, we knew something different was happening here,” Fran said. Each tour is tailored specifically to fit the interests of the group and is privately reserved for friends and family only. For example, if you sign up for a tour at Montgomery Sky Farm with your family of four, you don’t have to worry about being stuck in a group with people you don’t know. Each tour is privately reserved for your party only. “I think this makes the experience so much more personal for everyone involved,” Fran said. “Not only do the visitors get to spend time with those that they love in a comfortable way, but I also get to know them better as the farmer, have meaningful conversations with them and educate them about life on the farm.” Each tour is one hour long and must be reserved via email through the farm website. Pricing depends on the number of party members. An official quote is given upon inquiry through email.
In addition to their farm tours, Montgomery Sky Farms offers a variety of fun events throughout the year and is working to incorporate a couple of new ones in the coming months. In fact, this Mother’s Day, the farm is hosting an all new event on the farm, featuring charcuterie, cows and quality time with family. “On Sunday, May 7th, we will be hosting a Mother’s Day picnic on the farm,” Fran said. “We are working with a good partner of ours, Hester General Store, to provide charcuterie for moms, two and four legged, as well as families who come to spend the afternoon with us. People can bring a blanket and enjoy sitting in the field across from our adorable highland cows to make memories together.” Fran and Taylor are also working on several other experiences to offer throughout the year, including educational classes, chefs table dining experiences, private party spaces and charcuterie with the cows.
In addition to being a full-time farmer, Taylor is also an Executive Chef in Greenville. The restaurant, Urban Wren, is a huge hit among the locals and he recently helped open another concept restaurant entitled The Bellwether. For this reason, Taylor really enjoys when people visit the farm during produce harvesting season, which takes place June through October each year. “We grow a variety of unique, heirloom vegetables on our farm as well as fruits and flowers,” Fran said. “Most of the things that we grow are items that Taylor uses in dishes at the restaurants, which are a part of our zero waste mission, All the vegetable scrap produced weekly is brought back to the farm, incorporated into our composting system using chickens and pigs and then put back on the fields for production.” Taylor enjoys not only showing the public how to grow these unique produce items, but also educating them on how to harvest and cook them. Products from Montgomery Sky Farm can be found on-site through their weekly produce boxes, at both restaurants in Greenville, Swamp Rabbit Café or Hester General Store.
“The people who visit our farm every day are part of this experience with us,” Fran said. “Not only are they making core memories on the farm with their friends and family, but they are also giving back to the animals financially. All of our proceeds from events and tours go toward providing a high-quality life for our animals and ensuring that they have the best care and nutrition possible.” Although she never envisioned that she would be a farmer, Fran wouldn’t trade anything for the life that she has now and the joy she witnesses on the faces of countless children and adults who visit the farm each year. “I always thought that I would impact people’s lives by being a veterinarian and caring for animals, but through this farm I have been able to impact the lives of others in a far greater way,” she said. “I fulfilled a dream in that historic farm and there is no greater joy than sharing what we love with others.”
Check out Montgomery Sky Farms website or social media pages for the latest event updates and to schedule your farm tour today! We promise it will be an experience that will create new core memories for your friends and family that will last a lifetime.