Thad C. Burnette & Van Burnette
Meet Farmer Van: Owner of The Hop~N~Blueberry Farm
Years ago, when the owner, Van Burnette was just a wee lad, he stayed many weeks at his Grandparents farm, learning the "ole timer's ways" from his Grandfather who taught him how to live off the land and not to depend on anything other than what grew on the land to survive.
That concept stayed with him for the rest of his life, and he started growing things that his Grandfather taught him how to at a very early age on the farm, not knowing whether of not he would ever be there in the future to see the benefits of what he was growing.
As luck would have it, he inherited the very spot he told his Grandfather that he wanted to build on when he grew up. Now, after all of those years, he has managed to diversify the family cattle farm into growing new alternative crops and creating quite a buzz in the agricultural community.
For two years, Van studied what might work as a new crop to grow in the area. Because Asheville NC, just minutes away, is now considered the "micro-brewing" capital of the US, he thought that hops might just be the crop to invest time into exploring. With the help of a grant from the Western North Carolina AgOptions Grant, he was able to start the transformation of the family cattle farm into growing hops and blueberries.
This was in addition to the studies and experiments he was carrying on since his boyhood days with growing ramps, a local wild leek with a regional reputation, and other native medicinals. And, along with his interest in growing native wildflowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds, he also got inspired him to write another grant for more diversification of the farm.
With the help of yet another WNC AgOptions Grant in 2010, he was able to develop another one of his life long passions, that of protecting the extraordinary life of the 2000- mile migrating Monarch butterfly. Working closely with Dr. Winthrop Phippen at the University of Western Illinois, he is also growing native milkweed (the host plant for the Monarch butterfly) to develop other markets for the plant.
Van and his wife Martha live on the family farm near the Town of Black Mountain. Her additions to the farm are exhibited in many of the artistic creations in and around the farm. Her stained glass and rock carvings are just but a few of her creative contributions.