ASAP likes to share the stories of people who help us fulfill our mission. This month we’re talking to farmer Wesley Sleight of Sleight Family Farm in McDowell County. Wes works with ASAP’s Growing Minds Farm to School Program and recently joined the advisory committee for the NC Farm to Preschool Network.
How did you first get involved with farm to school programming and education? Why is it important to you?
I have been involved in farm to school activities since 2003. I was working for a couple of farms in Santa Barbara, California, and I represented them for school visits to discuss life on the farm, organic farming, and nutrition. I also started a produce wholesale business selling produce from local farms to public schools, universities, hospitals, etc.
What motivated you to move to North Carolina and farm full time?
I have family ties to NC, and I lived here for a while as a teenager. After spending many years delivering wholesale produce through my previous business, I finally decided it was time to purchase our own farm. I have always wanted to move back here, and my wife Anna, my son Finley, and I finally made the move in 2013. We now have a 30-acre farm near Old Fort, and it is the best life we can imagine for ourselves!
What are you excited about in working with Growing Minds and the NC Farm to Preschool Network?
I have always been excited to share the enjoyment of delicious produce that makes the body feel so alive and healthy. I really look forward to helping kids and their families enhance their connection to nature and nutritious produce.
What are some of the ways you like to educate young minds about the importance of farm-fresh food?
I like to share with kids how eating nutritious produce makes your body like a superhero. It will make you feel more energetic, smarter, stronger, faster, etc. And to have a close connection to where your food comes from makes you feel even better when you eat it. It is important to support farmers in our community.
How are you and your family doing during COVID-19?
We are doing great during this difficult time. Our farm is named Sleight Family Farm because we all take part in growing great food. Our seven-year-old son enjoys our lifestyle and he is very patient with all the work we need to get done. Some days can run pretty long with all the homeschooling (Fin normally attends public school in Swannanoa) on top of the busy spring farming season, but we are staying healthy and trying to have reasonable expectations about what we can accomplish in a day.