Most days you’ll find Annie Louise Perkinson smiling with a light sheen of dirt on her cheek, a string of pearls around her neck and at least a dozen sun-warmed tomatoes bundled in her oversized cotton shirt. With the biceps of Serena Williams softened by the bright eyes and gentle poise of Grace Kelly, she balances a Blackberry in one hand and a home-grown pint of them in the other.
Along with the help of their two young daughters and a small army of dedicated interns and volunteers, Annie and husband Isaiah run the mountain microcosm known as Flying Cloud Farm in Fairview. ...
The great-granddaughter of Hickory Nut Gap Farm founders Jim and Elizabeth McClure, Annie is the modern product of a long-standing, small-farm dynasty in Western North Carolina.
But the idyllic setting and family of colorful characters has hypnotized more than just the latest generation of McClure descendants. Flying Cloud is host each year to a revolving door of young interns and volunteers who leave their Facebook-generation peers behind to pursue an uncommonly uncomplicated goal — growing food and flowers. ...
“Isaiah has all of the determination and knowledge of equipment to manage the land, and I work a lot with seeds and planning,” Annie said. “We are a team — both of us with different skills that work together to just grow food.”
According to intern Anna Long, Annie and Isaiah create an atmosphere for collaboration that makes the farm chemistry flow.
“They don’t treat us like we’re just workers,” she said. “They consult us, have us make decisions and give us a say in things. It makes you a lot more invested in the work you’re doing.” ...
[Perkinson's] parents were not farmers but “back-to-the-landers” who raised much of their own food — including pork and beef — and enjoyed milk from the farm owned by her grandparents, Jamie and Elspie Clarke. The adjacent Hickory Nut Gap Farm is now managed by Annie’s cousins, the Agers. ...
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