“I like to refer to Native Sun as being nestled in the suburban fabric of Oconee County, meaning that we are right next to a whole bunch of subdivisions,” said Amy Lopp. “There are actually 450 households within a mile of the farm.”
Amy and Brent Lopp along with their two children, two-year-old Garrett and one-month- old Millie, live on 11 acres along Jimmy Daniels Road in Bogart, Georgia. Brent’s family has owned the land for 30 years. Currently, the Lopps have two acres under cultivation.
“Brent has been farming the land for about 3 years,” Amy said. “Neither of us were raised on farms. We have some family history with our grandparents’ generations being big gardeners, but no real farmers,” she said.
Brent and Amy are University of Georgia graduates. Brent has a degree in horticulture. Amy has a degree in landscape architecture.
“We didn’t initially set out to farm,” Amy said. “We didn’t start formulating the plan until 2008 while we were thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. We spent a year or so researching and preparing and to get rolling at the end of 2009.”
Native Sun produces primarily vegetables: beans, peas, greens, lettuce, carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, tomatoes, squash, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, okra, potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn. There are also some fruits to be found — strawberries, figs, melons and muscadines. The Lopps recently planted a pick-your-own blackberry patch that should be in production in 2014.
If you perused the Daily produce aisle this fall and winter, you were treated to Native Sun carrots, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower . You may also already know their goodies from the Athens Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. Their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) begins this week — April 17 through August 4. Still need another chance to scoop up their veggies and fruit? Check out their farm stand on Wednesdays (noon to 1 PM and 4 to 6 PM) at 1560 Jimmy Daniel Road. Need ideas for what to do with all this fresh goodness? Amy also writes a blog.
“We farm because we are passionate about the environment and our health,” Amy said. “I believe there is a future in family farming, at least sustainably practiced farming. This is such a wonderful way to experience life and raise a family that I can’t not believe that there is a future in it,” she said. “It’s been really fun watching our son learn things around the farm. He has actually taught us how important it is to slow down and take it all in,” she said. “Without his innate curiosity, I would never have know that you can eat arugula flowers and that they are delicious.”