ZEBULON, N.C. — For the past 11 years, the Baker Family Farm has been the Baker Family Vineyard.
What You Need To Know
The Department of Agriculture helps cover the cost of organic certification
Farms get reimbursed for up to half the cost
Baker Family Vineyard has been a part of the program for years
After years of growing tobacco, T.Y. Baker decided to make the shift when the allotment program ended.
“There’s a history of grapes on the land. Granddaddy first planted a scuppernong grapevine over 100 years ago. So, I knew grapes would grow here,” Baker said.
From the start, T.Y. and his son Yates knew they wanted to do it all organically. But, getting organic certification costs money.
“It’s not easy to go organic. It’s much easier to be able to spray for bugs. It’s much easier to be able to spray for the mold that comes in and all of that, but in general, it’s better for the consumer and it’s better for the environment here locally, candidly,” Yates said.
Around five years ago, they began taking part in the Department of Agricultures Cost-Sharing Program.
Since 2010, the program has helped over 1,500 applicants across North Carolina cover the cost of getting their organic certification and recertification.
“They reimburse up to half those costs. So for us it’s not only good as the owners of the vineyard, but we employ 20 plus people locally during season,” Yates said. “It allows us more money in our pocket, which in turn goes to our workers, goes to the community and allows us to get a better product to market.”
T.Y. says there are multiple reasons they wanted to take care of this land the best way they could, and the Department of Agriculture has helped them do just that.
“One is family history. Our family’s been on this land a couple hundred years and I would feel amiss, remiss if I did not take care of this land,” T.Y. said. “Number two, I’m fully convinced that organic farming is the way to go for the future of this country.”
Through around mid-October, the vineyard is open for “pick your own” muscadine grapes.