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.

Old Mill of Guilford: A Step Back in Time

Old Mill of Guilford— an HISTORIC FULLY OPERATIONAL, WATER-POWERED, 18TH CENTURY GRIST MILL— has become a favorite pit stop of my family when traveling through quaint Oak Ridge, North Carolina on our way to visit my brother, a North Carolina State Park Ranger at Hanging Rock State Park.

Once we leave the beaten path of the interstate behind us, we are eager for a hiatus and there is no better place than Old Mill of Guilford.

We love to seek refuge on the grounds of Old Mill of Guilford and tour the mill that allows its guests a peak inside the treasured North Carolina historical landmark and business.

Upon arrival, guests are greeted by a rustic, covered porch lined with rockers, a handmade wooden, plank bench and a few charming antiquities….

as well as a resident calico cat.

The front door of the mill stays ajar during spring and summer to welcome a stray breeze and visitors to enter the heart of the small mill of yore’s daily operations.

My seven-year-old son is fascinated by the idea of water funneled in from a nearby watershed powers the machinery.

For parents seeking educational opportunities for their kiddos during the summer months, this is a great way to share a lesson on engineering, food production and North Carolina history.

Off to the right of the mill’s main floor is a glass window paned, white, wooden framed door, decorated with hundreds of handwritten names of previous customers to the onsite mill store.

Visitors can peruse the cache of Old Mill of Guilford Stone Ground products as well as other locally made goods.

We’ve grown quite fond of the Buttermilk and Apple Cinnamon Pancake Mixes which are perfect for a weekend, family breakfast. 🥞

My son (and friends) enjoy putting their tooth fairy money to use by purchasing bars of local, handmade scented soaps 🧼 and a piece of candy 🍬 or two.

The mill store uses an oldtimey cash register which is a great conversation starter, and endearing relic of days gone by.

The mill’s grounds are a perfect stage for an al fresco lunch while overlooking the old sky-high footbridge over the creek, and bright, red-painted carriage wheel fencing.

According to the company website: https://oldmillofguilford.com/

“Mill of Guilford was founded in North Carolina on Beaver Creek in 1767 to grind grain for the early settlers of what is now Guilford County. Today, the mill continues to produce all-natural, stone-ground, whole grain foods, just as it has for over 240 years.

The Mill produces all natural corn meal, grits and flour along with a wide range of mixes including:  Gingerbread Mixes, Muffin Mixes, Pancake Mixes, Cookie Mixes, Scone Mixes, Biscuit Mixes and Hushpuppy Mix.  The Mill’s signature mix is the Sweet Potato Muffin. Visit the Old Mill Store for these products and other fine foods and crafts from North Carolina.”

If interested in visiting Old Mill of Guilford, look here:

Old Mill of Guilford is a wonderful byway stop worthy of your time, rich in history and peaceful landscapes of which my family has come to love.

-Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

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

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Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

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.