Committing to farming is no easy task. It takes a lot of hard work and determination to get a farming operation to its full potential. Nate Darnell, owner and operator of FOS (Fletcher, Obidiah, and Sophia, the names of Nate Darnell’s three children) Farm in Whittier, NC, has the determination and passion for farming that has allowed him to achieve many things on his farm. He has recently become GAP Harmonized Certified, GAP being an acronym for Good Agricultural Practices.
Darnell’s father, Jeff Darnell, began farming in the 1970’s and later moved to what is now FOS Farm in the 1980’s. “I’ve always been in love with farming,” said Darnell. “As a teenager, I was always out in the field helping my dad do whatever task he had for me that day.” The family later purchased land in Bryson City which is now known as Darnell Farms. When the family moved their operation into Bryson City, Nate stayed behind. “I wanted to keep farming this land,” said Darnell. “I wanted to try my hand at running this operation myself.”
In February of 2017, Nate reached out to Christina Newhouse, Southwestern NC RC&D Council’s Agriculture & High Tunnel Specialist, to become GAP Harmonized Certified. In order to obtain this certification, farmers must pass audits to prove that the produce grown on the farm is handled, packaged, grown, and stored safely without posing any health risks to future consumers. Darnell passed through these audits and obtained his GAP Harmonized Certification in the summer of 2017. “This is a major achievement for me because now I am able to sell to places that require GAP Harmonized Certification,” said Darnell. “Because I obtained my certification, I now sell my heirloom tomatoes to Blue Apron!”
Blue Apron is a fresh food delivery service. Customers go online, pick their recipe, and fresh ingredients are delivered to their homes. This is a very high achievement for GAP Certified farmers because not only are they selling to a big-name company, but their products are being enjoyed across the country. “I’m so glad I got to work with Christina,” said Darnell. “Because of her hard work, I now get to share what I love with more people than just those that live in Western North Carolina.”