MINT HILL, NC – Located just outside Mint Hill on Cabarrus Road sits Clear Creek Garden and Field. Home to Cathe and Bill Anderson, the five-acre farm sits on a portion of what used to be the farming community of Clear Creek Township.
Prior to taking up residence at Clear Creek, Cathe and Bill lived in the Cotswold area of Charlotte, where they had spent most of their adult lives. Gardeners, though not quite farmers, the Andersons were running out of space on their “suburban acre.” “We were just filling it up rapidly with shrubs, trees, vegetables, and perennials,” says Cathe. “Our yard kept filling up and becoming more and more shadier, and we knew we had to do something else.”
It took the Andersons three years to find just the right place. “A lot of places are for horses,” says Cathe of their search for the perfect small farm. “They have a lot of pastures. But we wanted something for farming. This entire site is fenced, so we knew we’d have no deer and no coyotes, which is very important.”
If you’d visited the property before the Andersons moved in, it would have looked quite different. The farm’s former owners raised both bees and champion Russian wolfhounds. Bill and Cathe don’t keep bees, but the many native plants that served as “bee food” – including 2 dozen blueberry bushes along the road – are part of what attracted her to the property.
The Andersons’ plan when they moved to Clear Creek was, according to Cathy, simply to grow a big garden. “My husband and I are what you would call ‘foodies,’” she says. ‘We love good food, and we love to cook, so we decided to grow everything that we like to eat, but then it got so abundant that we had to go to the Farmer’s Market!”
The scope of the farm today has moved well beyond the garden Cathe and Bill envisioned when they first moved in. “We didn’t think it would be this,” says Cathe, gesturing to the approximately two acres they now farm. Like many small farmers, the Andersons both have other jobs: Bill runs a consulting business, and Cathe works as a graphic designer. Farming started as a hobby and turned into a secondary income, but these days, things have flipped. “It’s turning out to be more of our full-time livelihood, and everything else we’re doing is secondary,” says Cathe.
Nowadays, the Andersons grow a diverse selection of produce: lettuce, sugar snap peas, beets, turnips, kale, mizuna, onions, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, asparagus, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and collards, to name a few. They also grow a wide selection of flowers and keep 17 chickens.
“I research all of the different kinds of latest seeds,” says Cathe. “I do a lot of heritage planting, but I like the new hybrids because they’re disease-resistant, and I like that because I don’t ever want to use chemicals on anything.” Like many small farmers, the Andersons garden mostly organically but are not officially certified organic.
Clear Creek Garden & Field is much more than a business to the Andersons; it’s a home. Perhaps nothing shows the true joy they take in living at and farming Clear Creek than their Bluebird Trail. Spaced around the perimeter of the property are seven bluebird boxes. “At 4:30 every day, no matter what, we get a drink and walk around with the dogs,” says Cathe. “We walk around at 4:30 and look at what we’ve done and think about what we’re going to do the next day. It keeps us sane. It keeps us married!”
It’s important to the Andersons to farm and live in an ecologically conscious way. “We’re big on recycling and refurbishing,” says Cathe, pointing out kennel fencing they’ve repurposed into garden trellises. The former “honey house” is now the Anderson’s shop and artist Cathe’s design studio. They pump their own water and rotate their crops in a way that nourishes the soil. They make their own compost and bring in by the truckload what they can’t produce themselves.
“We read a lot,” she continues. “We do a lot of research, and we stay really tuned into the farm community and Carolina Farm Stewardship, because there’s some really great information and ways to farm, environmentally, positively, and that’s what we’re about.”
The Andersons sell their produce (as well as fresh flowers and some of Cathe’s artwork) at the Mint Hill Farmers Market. They also share with The Bulb, a local nonprofit that makes fresh produce accessible to food-insecure communities. You can find Clear Creek Garden and Field on Saturdays at the Mint Hill Farmers Market and keep up with their offerings on Facebook at “Clear Creek Garden & Field.”