The barn with those huge smiling tomatoes
beckons you to stop in for quality produce
|One of the well-known tomatoes smiles out from a barn at Faith Farm.|
By Anita Rosen
Photos by Daniel Rosen
|Pretty as a picture, these lettuces make the basis for a delicious salad any night.|
Back in the early 1970s, John C. Knupp, Sr. bought the land now known as Faith Farm. The family lived in Buckhead, but weekends and vacations found them at the Cherokee County property. Knupp, ever the gardener, was drawn to the soil.
An inquisitive man, he began a methodical survey of his property. He planted an orchard of 60 heirloom trees—40 varieties of apples and three pear trees—all still bearing well. And he used the best source around to purchase these trees—nurseryman Jim Lawson, featured in this series in September 2011. Curious about cattle, he engaged the help of local farmer Jimmy Dobson to start a small herd. Some years later, granddaughter Colleen, exhibiting her inherited organizational traits, photographed and categorized each of the cattle.
In addition to his interest in the land, Knupp loved to golf and bought properties in both Big Canoe and Bent Tree. In fact, he was one of original property owners in Big Canoe and could be found on his Jeep riding the trails when he wasn’t on the greens.
|This hillside is prepared for the terrace farming.|
John discovered a spring on the property from which he ran a bottled water business. Three trucks hauled the unprocessed water each day into metro-Atlanta. John built a small home near the spring which garnered a view of the “Sleeping Lady,” a mountain whose distinctive slope can be seen from the porch.
Two years later, the house that sits atop the knoll on Yellow Creek Road was finished and the family moved into their new quarters. Farming was becoming the dominant feature of the business and, when Kathy found some greenhouses in southern Georgia, Faith Farm became a year-round enterprise.
At that point, John realized the farm had grown beyond a one-man operation. His search for a partner was expedited by son Cutler who attends Kennesaw State University. Hearing about the organic commissary on campus, Cutler approached Gary Coltek, Director and Chef de Cuisine, Culinary and Hospitality Services. A meeting was set up for Coltek to visit Faith Farm.
In 2009, The Commons, a 1,500-seat dining hall, opened at Kennesaw State University. Between 5,000 and 8,000 students eat here daily. According to Coltek, only local produce is served. This food is cooked to order in small batches, unlike other large kitchens where food is prepared all at once in large quantities. Local meats are used; nothing processed is served. So good is the food, members of the community pay to eat at The Commons.
|The sign for Apple Springs Farm marks the new land-use agreement between Kennesaw State University and the Knupp family.|
On his first visit to Faith Farm, Coltek noted the rolling topography and immediately understood the possibilities of applying the terracing techniques he had recently studied in Peru. A farm-to-campus initiative was established and is marked on Yellow Creek Road by the sign for Apple Springs Farm.
Under this land-use agreement, Kennesaw State University will maintain the organic methods presently used by Faith Farm. In the spring, crops such as asparagus, corn, tomatoes, lettuce and potatoes will be started.
An apiary of 20-25 beehives will be moved to Faith Farm for honey production. Goats may be added to keep the grass down, and there is a possibility of raising beef cattle and of building a gristmill. Olive trees and mushrooms may also make an appearance.
Volunteer students will learn while working the farm. In return, a portion of the produce will go back to Kennesaw State University for use at The Commons.
This year John plans to erect a permanent roadside stand on Yellow Creek Road. He will continue to offer quality produce: heirloom tomatoes, beans and okra in addition to the crops mentioned above. Certified Naturally Grown (CNG), Faith Farm adheres to organic farming practices. For more information, call John at 770-893-3665 or check out the Faith Farm web site, www.naturallygrown.org/farms/. And be sure to stop by at the farm stand for some good talk and quality produce along Yellow Creek Road.