The four-person team behind the Whispering Pines farm expected a crowd of 50 at their Aug. 18 Honey Bee Fest. They were met with 250.
The festival — featuring a self-guided trail to the farm’s bee hives, as well as several vendors — is one of a handful of events the family has hosted since moving to the farm in 2009. Ken bought the farm in 2004, three years after the Army brought him to Moore County. He learned that his offer on the farm had been accepted during his first date with Carolyne, a native of Edinburgh, Scotland, who was attending Yale at the time.
Their 47 acres are carved out of the 70 that once housed the original Farm Life School, which was established in 1859. The residential school lived up to its name, teaching traditional subjects as well as agriculture and home economics. The last high school class graduated in 1964, when it was consolidated along with Carthage, Vass and Cameron high schools into Union Pines, but the school continued to serve K-8 students for several more years. Read more about the school’s history here.
A barn the family still uses today, built in 1915, is one of the few structures built over the lifetime of the Farm Life School that was in good enough shape to keep. The old infirmary, with a rough log foundation, served as the family’s home before they tore it down, creating their self-designed, energy efficient home in the space that once housed teacher’s quarters.
The rest of the land is slowly being worked back to its agricultural roots, with the help of goats, chickens, ducks, and, of course, honeybees.
The latter started nearly three years ago, just after Whispering Pines had banned backyard bees in the town limits. The couple won at a school auction a yearlong beekeeping mentorship from Steve Filby — a FirstHealth cardiologist who manages 30 hives and donates proceeds from the honey to the Clara McLean House.
The honey that resulted from their efforts? It’s light and sweet, a flavor from flowers planted just for the bees.
As the couple continue to work on their homestead, more events are in the works — be on the lookout for opportunities to get your hands on honey as well as beeswax candles and balms.
Until then, you’ll find Carolyne and Ken working on creating a balance between life, work and raising their kids Isla and Iona, who are 8 and 3.
“It’s their inheritance,” Ken says. “I hope they appreciate the land and want to stay here. For me, it was a vision of creating a lifestyle for them; a healthy, happy creative lifestyle.”
To contact the farm, email Carolyne Davidson at firstname.lastname@example.org.