Take the Farm Road this Fall

I grew up in rural Eastern North Carolina— grandchild of country folk— driving along farm roads was a way of life.

The first nine years of my life were spent in a tick bite-sized farming community where my brother, our friends, and I roamed dirt aisles along tobacco fields— and lurked along the woods’ edge where old tractors and appliances went to die, rust among changing fall leaves.

It is no wonder I yearn for country roads… truly a therapeutic outing for me which provides a safe escape from city life and sets my busy mind at ease.

I need to see rich, fertile soil overturned by plows and the people who tend God’s good Earth.

Souls who care deeply for their own— so much so generation after generation live side by side and support one another through their faith, loyalty, and simplicity of country living.

Folks who still sit together at their dining tables on Sunday’s after church for home cooked lunches, eat fresh grown vegetables from their very own gardens, and pray over their full plates for grace— another year, their loved ones, a full crop.

One of my favorite roads in Fayetteville, NC is Gillis Hill Farm Road which is named for the Gillis Family’s Farm which has been in existence for over a century or more.

I’ve previously written I practically raised my son during his toddler years on the grounds of Gillis Hill Farm because there are delicious sweets and homemade ice cream, an outdoor produce market, and serene farm land perfect for a child to roam while their parents refresh their mindset from the hustle and bustle.

This time of year the farm becomes even more magical as the pumpkins 🎃 line up and the hot North Carolina air begins to cool.

Plenty of friendly folks are around the farm to chat with about quaint country life. Not to mention, covered wagon rides which bring a smile to any child’s face— no matter your age.

I stopped into the market recently and picked up a pretty yellow mum as well as winter veggie plants (Kale, Swiss Chard, Cabbage) for my garden.

A gregarious member of the Gillis clan gave me an education on the Paw Paw tree and its fruit which ripens this season.

https://caldwell.ces.ncsu.edu/2017/09/native-pawpaw-tree/

Photo courtesy of NC Cooperative Extension

“When it hits the ground, it’s ready,” he said and gave me a slice to try, it’s juices sweet as mango.

I’d grown up with Paw Paws all about the woods of my stomping grounds, but had never eaten it’s fruit. He said a brewery out of Durham, NC is brewing craft beer with Paw Paw fruit.

https://www.fullsteam.ag/beer/style/wild-paw-paw-ale

Our chat was an added bonus on my country road drive today as I love talking all things North Carolina— history, people, places, botany, agriculture, beer, whatever— I’m willing and eager to listen.

Truly, I could have sat there and talked to him all day. He had a good southern brogue too which made it all the better.

Made me feel at home— yet all the more wiser— full of pride and wonder.

If you keep winding further down Gillis Hill Farm Road, you cross the County line and find yourself in the middle of the Rockfish community off Lindsay Road in Raeford, NC.

There’s Rockfish Flea Market that boasts an arcade— even a food truck or two. As well as market vendors selling all types of things.

https://m.facebook.com/RockfishFleaMarket/

The flea market is adjacent to Rockfish Speedway which hosts events for the Motorsports lover in your life.

The old fire truck with a classic race car on top is a nice touch as well as a great photo-op.

https://m.facebook.com/pages/category/Race-Track/Rockfish-Speedway-160330377671161/

I keep meaning to contact the kind folks at the speedway to inquire about setting up a booth one weekend for a speedway event to sell my children’s travel and adventure picture book, Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck.

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

I believe it would be a “right nice” fit. Don’t you?

My next Lindsay Road suggestion is a little gem (just a hop and a skip down from the speedway) called Re-Imagined which is the most precious repurposed furniture, home decor and gift store.

https://m.facebook.com/reimaginedlindsayhouse/

Last November, I signed up for my very first craft fair which was hosted at Re-Imagined and I have since become a vendor selling my handcrafted art as well as refinished/repurposed vintage and antique furniture.

https://m.facebook.com/nautigulcustomwoodartandgifts/

Let me tell you, I fell in love with this adorable shop housed in an old, restored country cottage which features repurposed vintage and antique furniture— as well as shabby chic, farmhouse-style, handmade decor and gifts.

It’s the bees knees. You must go check out the beautiful goods and support all of the local artisans!

You will fall in love too!

After all this wonderful Fall shopping your last stop on the country road should most definitely be The Mill at Puppy Creek to grab a delicious bite to eat while enjoying tranquil country views.

https://www.facebook.com/themillatpuppycreek/

The Mill at Puppy Creek has great food, local brews and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.

The restaurant is also child-friendly for those with kiddos in tow.

But also makes for an awesome adult date spot.

I hope you heed my suggestions and find your way wandering the farm road this weekend!

Tell them all I sent you!

– Alison Paul Klakowicz

Host and Creator of Hodge Podge Blog and Podcast

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Contentment Found at Gillis Hill Farm

Five years ago, my family found a treasure tucked away on a winding country road on the edges of Cumberland County, North Carolina not far from our home in Fayetteville.

A sacred place where we would find contentment, quiet moments of togetherness and joyful, sugar-filled hikes along green pastures and wooded trails.

Five years ago, we found Gillis Hill Farm.

At the time, I knew it would become a special place in our Sandhills journey. But, I did not realize the void it would fill in our hearts.

Overtime, it became a sanctuary where we could escape the hustle and bustle of daily routines, military family woes, and a busy city life.

And, just be a family wandering the grounds of a simple, beautiful farm.

With the purchase of {a multitude of flavors} homemade, ice cream served in a cup or waffle cone— as well as daily fresh baked goods (we highly recommend the brownies 👍😋), you can peruse the terrain of the eighth generation family owned and operated contentment farm.

Our favorite spot to savor the delectable cold, sweet treat (or other delicious goodies) is along the screened porch of the old farmhouse office and bakery— gliding on white rockers overlooking the grounds bursting with azalea and hydrangea blooms that have welcomed visitors for many years each spring.

I have introduced friends and family to “the farm” over the years— to share this magical place with loved ones in hopes it might serve them a bit of the joy my family has gained from its fertile and safe harbored grounds much like my country roots— and the porches where I rocked with my grandparents during hot North Carolina summers.

Gillis Hill opens to the public each spring and closes in late November— we are always so sad to see it close for the winter.

Alas, I begin to stalk their Facebook pages in March each year to see if there are postings of when our favorite local hideaway will welcome us back.

AND, Lo and behold… LOOK 👀 what I found on their FB page today:

WOOHOO!!!! April 1st cannot come soon enough! 😃

I am like a toddler on a sugar high!👆👆👆

I cannot wait to pack up my family and friends, and haul them out to Gillis Hill Road!

If you are new to the area or are looking for a perfect place to spend a spring day in Central NC, make this a MUST on your destination list. You won’t be disappointed (If you are, then you need to re-evaluate your priorities. 🤔 Just sayin’ 😂)!

Plus, you are supporting a local family farm!

To find out more information about Gillis Hill Farm, visit their Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/GillisHillFarm/

To contact them, look 👀 here:

And, mark April 1st on your calendar!!!

We will see you at “the farm!”

Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is a North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.