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Agriculture strikes chord with musician

Deep River Farm debuts this season

 
POSTED: May 30, 2010 2:00 p.m.
Jim Dean/

Ben Friedman tends to tomatoes in his garden in south Forsyth.

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For more than 15 years, Ben Friedman was the singer, songwriter and guitar player for the rockabilly band Cigar Store Indians.

These days, Friedman has traded in his beats for beets, which he grows along with other fruits and vegetables at Deep River Farm in south Forsyth.

The farm’s 21 acres have been in the family since 1985, when Friedman’s father, Tommy, flew airplanes from the site.

The site later was used as a meeting place for model plane enthusiasts until 2001, when Friedman decided not to sell the property to developers.

“What a sin that would be to turn our property into a subdivision,” he said.

There’s always been a garden at the Friedman house, but only recently did he decide to open his crops to the public.

“We’re lucky enough to be surrounded by Windermere and the Chattahoochee River Club. I’ve been approached by the homeowners of Laurel Springs,” he said. “It really makes sense if folks will support me that are close by.”

Friedman said his pricing structure will be competitive with market rates.

He currently uses more than 2 acres for his summer crops — including corn, peppers, okra, potatoes and watermelon — and plans another couple acres for the fall crop.

The property occupies about 2,000 feet of the Chattahoochee River’s bank, making the soil ideal for the farm.

Friedman said he plans to participate in multiple farmers’ markets.

“Nothing is going to waste,” he said. “If we have tomatoes that aren’t selling, we’re going to make sun-dried tomatoes. Anything else I have,
I’m going to turn over to Meals on Wheels to feed the elderly.”  

Friedman, his wife Jenny and sons Henry, 10 and Charlie, 7, pitch in along with two lifelong farmers.

“I just love watching the corn come up,” he said. “It makes me feel connected to the earth.”

While Friedman’s is larger than many, family farms are becoming more and more popular, said Stephen Garton, agent with the Forsyth County Extension Service.

“People remember what food tasted like when food was grown locally and that’s why we see more people interested in local production and much, much more interest in people producing their own,” he said. “People realize that they want some control over what they eat.”
While not certified organic, Friedman’s crops are naturally grown.

“We’re talking a few hours rather than a few days,” Garton said. “That means you can get food that tastes so good. It’s been picked at its peak.

“It’s not being picked at the right time for handling and shipping. It’s being picked at the right time for nutritional value and flavor.”

Friedman said his crops will be ready in a couple weeks, starting with tomatoes.

With two children at home, Friedman said he tends to grow traditional vegetables.

“I love that I’m feeding my family the best food I can get for them,” he said. “There’s a lot to be proud of being a farmer.

“I feel like a big nerd, but I’m all excited.”

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