Those willing to test their taste buds and stomach tolerance are invited to participate in the Hot Pepper Eating contest at Greenlands Farm’s second annual Fall Farm Fest Oct. 12 in Bolivia, N.C.
“We thought [having the contest] would be fun, spice it up some,” quipped Heather Burkert, co-owner of Greenlands Farm with husband Henry Burkert. “We grow three of the hottest peppers in the world.” She named scorpion moruga, bananero and scotch bonnet. Contestants will pay a $5 entry fee to attempt to eat these three in the contest. Winner will take half the pot.
Heather plans to make chili chocolate ice cream, chocolate-covered candied chili peppers and chili chocolate cake as delicacies to taste at the festival. Her homemade baked goods, some gluten-free, some sugar free, will be available as well.
Sally Winey of Oak Island’s Winey Bears will be spinning wool from the llamas in the Greenlands Farm petting zoo. Pony and llama rides, hay rides, milking demonstrations, arts and crafts, face painting, a bluegrass band, raffles and more attractions are on the agenda. In addition to baked goods, homemade jams and jellies, specialty teas, soaps made from goats’ milk, and freshly made sandwiches are always available at the café in the Greenlands Farmstore.
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“We’re a homestead farm,” Heather said. “Our lifestyle has been self-sustaining.”
Heather explained she and Henry met while students at Michigan State University and had several experiences in common. They were accustomed to the farm environment, having spent some of their growing up years in the country. They had tasted home-grown vegetables and had a liking for fresh produce. Although Heather planned to be a doctor, she changed her interests to Henry’s, horticulture sciences and landscape design.
After marrying, having two daughters and opening a landscape design business for six years, the Michigan weather drove the couple south. They moved their business to Wilmington, N.C., in 1979, and by 1982 they started farming on a two-acre plot. They had goats, geese, chickens and ducks and felt right at home.
Yet a homestead farm called to them. They searched for the ideal location and found it in Bolivia. With a master plan in hand, they started planting fruit orchards, pears, persimmons and other fruit trees and developed storm water management on their 21 acres of land. As their farm evolved, they built their home, Henry built a barn for all the animals and next came the farm store. Bee hives, rescue llamas, Pete the peacock, two pot-bellied pigs, sheep, goats, ponies and Miley the donkey all have a place on the farm.
As the years passed the Burkerts began to offer more activities. They conduct seminars in farming, canning, soap making, baking and animal husbandry. They teach how to make a mobile tractor for free-range chickens. They have educational tours for groups, and area residents have an opportunity to be part of the CSA – Community Supported Agriculture – plan. For a fee those who sign up receive a half-bushel of seven produce items for 10 weeks. Two years ago Heather invited merchants to display consignment items in the Farmstore.
“I thought it was a place to showcase people’s wares,” she said. “It’s a way to help others.”
“She supports the whole community,” Winey said.
The Burkerts’ daughter, Maud Kelley, 37, has moved to the farm with her husband, Ryan, and their two children, Jules, 2, and Rhett, three months. While Ryan manages his software business, Maud, Heather explained, is in charge of the soaps and animal rescues. The Burkerts’ other daughter, Ainsley Trobaugh, 39, lives in Wilmington with her son Milo, 14, and manages the Belk store in Mayfaire.
Greenlands Farm involves maximum commitment by the Burkerts. Heather rises about 3 a.m. every morning so her baked goods are available early. Her peach mango bars, blueberry scones and ham and cheese scones are very popular, said employee Eileen Creel. “Her most popular item is fig jam,” she added. “I love that everything is homemade and freshly made.”
Henry said he gets up between 4 and 5 a.m. and is in charge of the four acres of crops. “I enjoy being outdoors,” he said. “I like growing something that someone else will enjoy.” At the same time, he’s not interested in large scale production. “We’re a polyculture farm,” he said. “We take pride in it.”
The Burkerts like interacting with the community and providing people with what they otherwise wouldn’t have if it weren’t for Greenlands Farm.
“We want people to be aware of homestead farming,” Henry said.
First Italian Festival
All things Italian take precedence Oct. 12 at the first Italian Festival St. Brendan the Navigator Catholic Church in Shallotte, N.C., will host.
“I just want people to get to know each other and have fun,” said Rev. Ryszard Kolodziej. “We are a very vibrant community, and I am proud to be pastor.”
Corinne Butera, chair of the food and music committee, said a large number of the 1,800 families in the parish are of Italian heritage, and Father Ryszard thought the festival would be a big attraction. As pastor of St. Stanislaus Church in Castle Hayne, N.C., Father Ryszard oversaw its successful Polish festival for a dozen years.
Activities for all ages are on the agenda. Children will have face painting, games and clowns to occupy their time. Bocce ball teams can be organized at the festival, hand-crafted items from works of art to jewelry, greetings cards and hand-sewn clothing are being gathered for sale as well articles for the silent auction. People will put their dancing shoes on to keep time with the Class Act Band led by Mario Paparozzi.
Homemade, authentic Italian food will be a major attraction. Sausage, peppers, pizza, pasta, meatballs, Italian bread, zeppoles, which is fried dough, and desserts are on the menu and available for take-out. A bake sale features homemade goodies, some of which are in the church’s cookbook. Beverages include beer, wine and soft drinks. Tickets for the $1,000 grand prize cost $5 each. Playing the game wheel costs $2 for prizes that include gift cards, jewelry and a variety of other items.
Kandy Nardini, chair of the fun and marketing committee, said prizes are given at every game. Mass will be celebrated after the festival at 7 p.m. “We welcome people from all faiths and walks of life,” Father Ryszard said.
Communities In Schools Benefit Gala For Children
In 2001, a group of concerned community members wanted to ensure that Communities In Schools of Brunswick County, which assists at risk-students so they graduate high school, had enough funds to stay in business. As a result, they organized the first Communities In School Benefit Gala for Children featuring menu items from Brunswick County restaurants. Now, 12 years later, the Gala continues to attract 600 people and the best finger food dishes from at least a dozen restaurants.
The silent and live auctions are also a staple. In addition to jewelry, art works and golf packages, other items in the auctions this year are a three-night stay at the Hilton New York Hotel including airfare and other amenities, a Disney World family adventure and a choice of a Canadian destination at a Fairmont Hotel. Chris LaCoe, owner of Hwy 55 Burgers Shakes & Fries in Shallotte, N.C., and Leland, N.C., and a CIS board member, is presenting sponsor for the event. “I’m giving my money to help others,” LaCoe said.
“He is a genuine philanthropist,” said Cynthia Tart, executive director of CIS. “He is a giving person.”
In its 33rd year, the N.C. Oyster Festival features the attractions that have kept the festival popular for so long. Live music performs through most of the day with popular bands including Sawgrass, Jim Quick and the Coastline Band, Jaded Mayberry, Sea Cruz, Craig Woolard Band and others. Arts and crafts are on display and for sale, a children’s area is available, and among the highlights are the oyster stew cook-off and the amateur and professional oyster shucking contests – and all day, oysters to eat plus other food and beverages.