#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!
A life of freedom can be found through farming, especially at NOMAD Farms, LLC in Tobaccoville, where freedom is the way of life. For ten years, Mark and Dana Nicholson lived on the Tibetan Plateau where they learned the down-to-earth lifestyle of the Nomads. Upon returning to North Carolina in 2013, the Nicholson’s wanted to bring a new face to farming in our state by offering a place where agriculture and their new way of life could merge. Thus, NOMAD Farms was born.
Today, NOMAD Farms is home to a variety of livestock animals, including cows, sheep, pigs, chickens and turkeys. All of these animals are raised on pasture and live as they would in the wild. “Cows eat grass. Chickens peck for bugs and fresh salad. Pigs root and wallow. These creatures are nomads,” Dana said. This not only enhances their quality of life, but also produces a healthy and clean product for human consumption. In fact, food-integrity if so deeply ingrained in the heart of NOMAD Farms, it was the leading reason that Dana and Mark ventured into the agritourism realm in 2014. “We envision growing relationships with people and educating them on the importance of food-integrity as well as our way of life on the farm,” Dana said, “especially the younger generation who will one day carry the industry forward.”
Educational Farm Tours are offered at NOMAD Farms by request, meaning you can simply pick a date and time that you would like to visit and email the farm to see if it’s available. These tours are wildly popular in the local community not only because they range in discussion based on the interests of the group, but also because they are eye opening to a new, regenerative way of farming. “As one of our favorite local farmers likes to say, epiphanies are commonplace on these tours,” Dana said. “We cater topics covered to every group that visits. Visitors get to interact with the baby animals and learn about where their food comes from, or for the more educated and interested guests, we can even discuss labeling, biodiversity and the American food industry.”
Groups of all ages and sizes are welcome to attend an Educational Farm Tour, from churches and school groups to family and friends. Tours cost $6 per person with a $70 minimum, so if you only have 10 people in your group, the cost for the tour would still be a total of $70. “For the time, preparation and effort that we put into giving these tours, we require this minimum,” Dana said, “but all of those proceeds go back into the farm and caring for our animals in the best possible way.” Educational Farm Tours last about an hour and a quarter and can include a picnic lunch afterward at the location of your choosing. “We offer visitors an in-depth look at how we use symbiotic relationships with our livestock, rotational grazing and nutritious pasture to raise animals for clean meat products,” Dana said. “Then if people wish to enjoy lunch on the farm at the conclusion of the tour, they are more than welcome to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the surrounding nature.” To schedule a farm tour, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org, and Dana will be more than happy to assist!
NOMAD Farms also offers Summer Camps for kids each year to come and get their hands dirty as they learn about life on the farm. These one week day camps last from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and can encompass a variety of activities and topics. “At summer camp, kids come alongside Farmer Mark and NOMAD’s Summer Staff to care for the animals, appreciate clean food production, study animal husbandry and sustainability, practice creative engineering to solve problems, and become activists in land conservation,” Dana said. “All senses awaken to the wonder and beauty of God’s design in nature!” Although all slots for this year are full, registration for summer camp 2024 will open on January 15, 2024.
Products from NOMAD Farms are offered on-site at their Log Cabin Store or at the Cobblestone Farmers Market near Old Salem. “Shoppers can find a wide selection of meat products at both locations, including chicken, pork, beef, lamb and turkey,” Dana said. Additional products are available depending on the season, including eggs, garden vegetables and crafts.
Dana and Mark truly enjoy having people visit their farm and learn about land stewardship. Although they love engendering relationships with all visitors, they truly take pride in educating the younger generation and upcoming agricultural leaders. “The younger generation will spearhead the movement of returning to small, local farms as the primary source of clean food,” she said. “If they value accountability, relationships with their farmers, and trust, then we can strengthen the entire food supply of our country!”
Send Dana an email today and start planning your trip to visit NOMAD Farms. North Carolina agriculture comes in all shapes and sizes, so seeing things from a new perspective is often a wise and enjoyable decision. Be sure to thank Dana and Mark for all that they do to provide fresh meat products for families across the state!