At Eco Farm, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, John Soehner and Cindy Econopouly and their family have been growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, and flowers under organic standards since 1995. On land that once produced tobacco, they now grow dozens of edibles and botanicals, inlcuding Asian greens and fava beans, figs and foxglove, zephyr squash and zinnias.
John and Cindy didn’t start off as farmers—she’s a fabric artist and he has been variously a fisherman, carpenter, and occupational therapist. But Cindy had grown up gardening with her family in New York State and in Greece. So after relocating to North Carolina, the couple gradually began to work their land. Soon, Cindy was selling produce and a few herbs at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market along with her artwork. Eventually John traded in his carpenter’s tools for a tractor, and with the help of their two children, the farm became their livelihood, named not only for “ecology” and humans’ relationship to the environment, but also for Cindy’s grandfather Yorgos Economopoulos, who, early in the twentieth century left his farm in Greece to start a new life in the U.S.