ASAP likes to share the stories of people who help us fulfill our mission. This month, we talk with farmer Jessica Franz Spiegel, owner of Terra Lingua Growers, which will be a stop on the 2019 Farm Tour in the Henderson Cluster.
Q: How long have you been farming? How did you get into farming?
I grew up on a horse farm, so farm life is in my blood. I didn’t begin growing professionally until six years ago in Alaska, where I eventually took over management of a large greenhouse production facility. This all began when a chef I worked with asked me to go with him to a small organic farm, where we would help harvest in exchange for first dibs on the seasonal produce. I was hooked from the first day I went to that farm.
What do you farm at Terra Lingua?
We specialize in lettuce, but grow a broad range of vegetables, herbs, and fruits in greenhouses as well as outdoors, using organic methods with everything we produce. Tomatoes are our next major focus, along with specialty greens, strawberries, and cut flowers.
Your greenhouse was part of the Smith Mill Works Cluster on last year’s Farm Tour, but this year your farm itself will be on the tour. What new things will visitors learn or experience by visiting Terra Lingua?
Growing in the field is an entirely different ball game from growing in a greenhouse setting. At the farm, visitors will be able to see how we’ve expanded production over the last several years and adapted our plots to cope with the extremely wet weather we’ve experienced recently. Visitors will also be able to see how a start-up farm business can become profitable within only a few years’ time.
Why do you participate in the Farm Tour?
I participate in the farm tour because it’s important for people to know firsthand where their food comes from and to engage with growers about what it’s like to farm in a changing and more challenging climate.
What are other ways people can connect with your farm?
Our produce is available at the Mills River, Flat Rock, and Saluda tailgate markets, as well as through our CSA program. Our lettuce and other seasonal items are also available for sale at the West Village Market in West Asheville and a few restaurants in Henderson and Polk counties.
Find out more about Terra Lingua and the other farms on the 2019 Farm Tour at asapconnections.org.