Cane Creek Farm moves!
The Summer 2020 Cane Creek Farm move is almost complete!
We’ve struggled to keep our mouths shut about this all summer, but it’s finally official: as of August 1st, Cane Creek Farm has moved a few miles down the road to a gorgeous new property! It is now located on Highway 87 on the site of a century farm – only 5 minutes from the shop.
Over the last two months, with the help of her kids and a crew of friends, Eliza has managed to move all of her equipment and animals over to the new property. Two of her closest friends – Babs Brown and Lucy Harris – helped her at every step of the way, and they’ll be building their own house out at the new farm. Together, everyone is breathing new life into the place. There are already litters of pigs in the pastures, dogs napping on the farmhouse porch, and guinea hens perched in the trees. With over 60 acres (instead of her previous 37), this property is going to give Eliza the space she needs. The outbuildings and pastures also make this a perfect spot to raise pigs.
Eliza says that the layers of history at the new farm have been so much fun to dig through. “This was a proper family farm that made sense as a part of its community. And since that’s what I’ve been trying to do with Cane Creek Farm for so long, it feels amazing to be taking over a place that was actually built for it. Mother Nature takes a toll, and when nobody stepped up to take it over the farm was left idle for a long time, so it’s going to take a lot of hard work on my part to make it function. But I can already feel a shift in the animals and in the land… we all feel really welcomed.”
We have such wonderful memories of Eliza’s old place (and the place before that…), and we can’t wait to make new ones at her new location. And for those keeping score, this is the final resting place of Cane Creek Farm- no more moves after this!! Stay tuned for cooking classes, parties, and more out at Cane Creek Farm in the years to come!
Cane Creek Farm History
Acres of creeks, pastures, and woods make up Cane Creek where we’ve set about creating a special home for unique breeds of pigs, as well as our family of goats, chickens, turkeys, sheep, donkeys, geese, guineafowl and ducks. Our animals are rotated continuously through pastures and woods. This is an ethical way to raise livestock and minimizes our need to medicate them, which helps assure healthy animals. Healthy animals lead to healthy food for our customers, food which happens to have incredible flavor. Come out to the farm and we’ll show you our bountiful gardens and our playful animals. Help support local and sustainable farms in the Piedmont and promote our local economy!
Cane Creek Farm is located in the heart of Saxapahaw. In addition to being home to the Ossabaw Island Hog, we also raise Gloucestershire Old Spots, Farmer’s Hybrids, and our very own Crossabaw breed – a mix of the Farmer’s Hybrids and Ossabaw Island Hogs. The rest of our lively animal population on the farm is comprised of a variety of Heirloom Breed Chickens and Saxony Ducks, Katahdin Sheep, Nigerian Dwarf Goats and Miniature Donkeys. Visitors to the farm are constantly amazed at the happy interaction of all our species, and many have compared Cane Creek to a storybook or child’s vision of a farm.
Our farming practices differ from those of our large scale counterparts in almost every way. Cane Creek is a family owned farm and practices sustainable agriculture – rotating crops and animals to keep the soil (incredibly) healthy and to keep the animals on fresh forage. Our animals are never kept in confinement and have free range to graze, root, and wallow. The pigs always have access to fresh water and are either hand-fed or have free access to grain-based food, supplemented with everything from garden clippings in the spring and summer to pumpkins and peanuts in the fall. Sheep, and goats are all entirely grass-fed, and our feed never has antibiotics or animal by-products. Cane Creek’s sows (that’s momma pigs, to you non-farmers) give birth as they would in the wild – by making a nest and raising their piglets without human interference.
Previous to August 2020, Cane Creek Farm put down roots in Saxapahaw beginning in early summer 2015. There they also offered guests a unique farm and rural America experience with camping platforms, a barn rental and a purple conversion school bus. People were able to enjoy the land – the farm animals, the birdlife, the creek, the meadow and the beech trees – as well as have easy access to the Village of Saxapahaw.
Deeply affected as a vet technician in her early teens, Eliza MacLean has always known her life would find her ever engaged with animals. A senior project in high school lead her to farming, as she worked side by side with a Amish family of 8 and was inspired by their love and commitment to each other and the land. It would take many years for her to return to farming, but she never lost her desire to live that holistic family lifestyle. MacLean has had a long history with animals, from work rehabilitating seals and sea lions in Sausalito at the Marine Mammal Center to songbird/raptor and small mammal rehabilitation at a wildlife center in North Carolina. After graduating with a degree in Environmental Toxicology from Duke, MacLean studied fish and their relationship to detrimental environmental impact. She also cultivated a hobby farm at home for years before becoming a career farmer, with a herd of registered goats, heirloom chickens, and miniature donkeys.
After the birth of her twins in 2000, MacLean volunteered part-time with the ALBC in Pittsboro, NC. There she met Chuck Talbott, then the Swine Specialist at NC A & T University, who would become a friend and mentor. She decided to go back to work part-time, and Talbott hired her to manage his hog herds at the university. MacLean immediately fell in love with the pigs, and soon starting working full time in partnership with Niman Ranch, Heifer International, NC A & T State University and with the Golden Leaf Foundation – focusing on transitioning long time tobacco farmers across the state into family pig farms. After launching the program with Golden Leaf, Niman Ranch hired MacLean to be their representative, evaluating farms and meat quality for their fledgling North Carolina hog production. In 2003, author and NY Times writer Peter Kaminsky contacted Talbott about finding someone to begin a herd of a rare breed of hog known as the Ossabaw Island Hog – a descendent of the Iberian hogs left by Spanish settlers off the coast of Georgia in the 1500’s. Talbott immediately suggested MacLean – she had the desire to begin her own farm, deeply rooted in her experiences as a youth, and an abundance of knowledge and enthusiasm about veterinary medicine, hog farming, and the conservation of rare breeds. Her herd of Ossabaw Island Hogs, Ossabaw Crosses, and Farmer’s Hybrid hogs has grown – hovering at 250, all free ranging on pasture land and grown without antibiotics or animal byproducts.
Eliza is now seen as a mentor and “go-to” person among other small-scale pasture farmers across the state and regularly serves on panels at Pastured Pork and Poultry conferences. She is the only farmer to continually provide fresh pork products at the venerable Carrboro Farmer’s Market; Eliza is known locally for providing a superior pork product to local restaurants, as well as respected venues in New York and other Atlantic coast locations.