With so many things happening at Hickory Nut Gap, you are bound to have a question or two. Here are some of the most frequently asked and answered questions we’ve received throughout the years.
Farm & Events
What do you do at Hickory Nut Gap Farm?
Hickory Nut Gap’s mission is to build community in agriculture. As part of that mission, our family farm is a working farm that promotes regenerative agriculture. We raise cattle, hogs, chickens, turkeys and perennial berries and apples. This is our farm store where we sell our meats, along with local grocery and craft items. We also serve lunch, brunch, and occasional dinner centered around our meat products and featuring locally farmed produce. Lots of events throughout the season, including barn dances, food festivals, and a renaissance faire, keep the regulars coming back and new people falling in love with the farm all the time.
Can we see the animals?
There is an animal viewing area and a baby chick brooder at our farm in Fairview adjacent to the Big Barn. At different times of the year, you can find baby chicks, baby turkeys, piglets, goats, and calves in these areas. Our cow pastures and pig fields outside of the barnyard area are not open to visitors unless you are participating in a private tour.
Do you serve lunch everyday?
Yes, if the farm store is open we are serving lunch from 11-4pm with brunch on Sundays from 10-4pm.
What are your hours?
Wed-Sun 10am-5pm [Closed Mondays/Tuesdays]
Lunch is served from 11am-4pm W-Sa, and brunch from 10-4 on Sunday.
Can I schedule a birthday party?
Yes! We have two venue options for birthday parties or small gatherings up to 35 people. You can choose between the Party Shed or the History Barn from 10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm. To reserve one of these facilities, click here.
How many acres do you have?
We raise animals on at total of 400 acres of land leased by Hickory Nut Gap Farm. 200 acres in Fairview and 200 acres in Rutherford County, NC.
How many head of cattle, hogs, chickens and turkeys do you have on your farm?
We have anywhere from 150-200 pigs including sows, piglets and hogs. We have 40 cows in our permanent herd, their yearlings, and calves totaling 120 head. We raise 3500 broilers chickens, 600 laying hens and 350 turkeys annually.
Who owns the land at Hickory Nut Gap Farm?
The land at Hickory Nut Gap Farm is owned by the Clarke Family Limited Partnership. Jamie and Amy Ager, the business owners of HNG have a long term lease on this property from their family.
Who is NC House Representative John Ager and how is he related to the farm?
NC House Representative, John Ager, is Jamie Ager’s father. Jamie and his wife Amy are the business owners and operators of Hickory Nut Gap Farm and Hickory Nut Gap Meats. John’s wife, Annie Ager, owns and operates Hickory Nut Gap Farm Camp. John is the author of We Plow God’s Fields, a history of Jim McClure which we carry at the farm store and a proud and involved grandfather in addition to his role in the NC General Assembly.
Do you grow berries? Which ones, and what time of the year? Are they U-Pick?
Yes! We grow and sell ripe blueberries (June-August), black raspberries (June-July), red raspberries (August), and blackberries (August-September). These are available first-come first-served as U-Pick.
Where are the vegetables?
Hickory Nut Gap Farm specializes in meat production although we do raise a few apples and berries as well. We source vegetables from local vendors for our deli. Flying Cloud Farm is and organic vegetable farm and farm stand owned by family members Annie Louise and Isaiah Perkinson that resides just down the road on the straight stretch of 74A.
Do you have a U-Pick apple orchard?
We have planted a U-Pick apple orchard, but growing and establishing organic apples has been a tricky endeavor. As of now, the orchard is not producing enough fruit to invite the public to offer a upick. Sign up for our newsletter to stay informed!
What is the CSA Program?
CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture” and is a business model used by many community farms to build the direct relationship between farmers and customers. Become a member of our CSA and we will prepare a monthly package of beef, pork, and chicken products for you. The perks include 10% off retail pricing for your share plus any meat you purchase the day you pick up. It also includes 5% off meat every other day of the year, bonus product and admission discounts. Find out more and sign up here.
What is the Hickory Nut Gap Farm Camp?
Hickory Nut Gap Farm Camp is a day camp run by Annie Ager and offered 5 weeks during summer. It is centered around horseback riding, drawing, pottery and theater skits. Please visit her website for info www.hickorynutgapfarmcamp.com
Do you offer horseback riding?
On the weekends during our fall festivities, we have simple horseback rides being offered to kids for a small charge. These are led by a handler at a walking pace.
For anyone interested in horseback riding lessons, trail rides, and camps, contact Annie Ager at 828-273-6236.
Farmers and Supply Chain
What protocols are your farmers following?
All of our partner farmers adhere to livestock and farming protocol standards that are created to ensure the safe and humane treatment of animals, the health and vitality of the land, and high quality end product. The full documentation of our protocols can be found here:
Can you tell me more about the farmers who raise your animals?
For the past 10 years we have built trusting relationships with farmers in our region. The farmers that raise animals for HNG share our values and standards. Read more individual stories about these farmers here.
What breeds of hog do you raise?
Primarily Berkshire and Duroc and the occasional Red Waddle and Land Racer breeds
What breeds of cattle do you raise?
Primarily small framed black angus and red angus breeds
What breeds of chickens do you raise?
We raise Cornish Cross broiler chickens and Golden Comet laying hens.
How does your cooperative farming model work?
We raise cattle, hogs, chickens, and turkeys here at the farm in Fairview. We also raise some cattle on leased acreage here in Fairview and in Rutherford County. Additionally, we work with regional cattle, hog, and chicken farmers to bring their small family farms’ product to market and increase the availability of grassfed and pasture-raised meats to more consumers across a larger area. All of the farms we work with use our farming protocol, which requires (among other things) 100% grassfed cattle, pasture-raised hogs and chickens, and no hormones or antibiotics for any of the three. Additionally, many of our cooperative farmers are working on organic certification for beef.
Do you raise everything on your farm in Fairview?
Our permanent herd resides in Fairview or other land that we lease in Rutherford County. Throughout the year we also source meat to sell in the farm store from our wholesale company, Hickory Nut Gap Meats. We have built relationships with farmers in our region who raise livestock to our protocol and share our values.
What is the difference between 100% Grassfed and Grassfed?
HNG 100% Grassfed Beef is raised from livestock that begins its first stage of life nursing and grazing, after weaning our cattle are on pasture eating grass, hay or baleage depending on what the season warrants. Grassfed is a general term that can also be inclusive of animals that have been grassfed and then grain finished. It is important to know the standards that a company follows to make a conscious food choice. You can feel confident that HNG beef is 100% grassfed and 100% grass finished.
Is your beef organic?
We raise and sell a limited amount of USDA certified organic beef. This beef is sold through select Whole Foods Markets. Additionally, the land at Hickory Nut Gap Farm and some of the pastures of the HNG farmers’ land is also certified organic.
All our beef is 100% grassfed and non-GMO verified.
Where do you process your meat?
Our retail beef is processed at Marksbury in Lancaster, KY; and FPL Foods in Augusta, GA processes some of our wholesale product (for restaurants and grocery stores). Our wholesale pork is processed by Villari Bros. in Warsaw, NC; retail pork for the farm store goes to Crowley Abbatoir outside of Morganton, NC; and we have begun to send a small amount of our pork to Marksbury for individual retail packing. Our poultry is processed on site at our farm in Fairview (or at Marksbury for our wholesale accounts). For the farm store, we bring back whole hogs from the processor and custom-cut them in house at our butchery. Chicken is also butchered in-house; and Marksbury butchers most of our beef. A small amount of beef is butchered in-house from primals acquired through our wholesale division.
Where does your meat come from?
We raise livestock at Hickory Nut Gap Farm and we also purchase livestock from other farmers in our region that raise animals under the HNG protocol standards and share our values. These farmers are primarily located in NC, SC, TN, GA, VA, and KY.
Is your meat non-GMO?
Our beef is currently non-GMO project verified. Our pork and chicken receive free-choice grains but they are not non-GMO certified as of yet. However, HNG and our partner farms are working hard on converting our pork and chicken program over to non-GMO in the near future.
What certifications does your meat have?
Our beef is 100% grassfed, no antibiotics, no added hormones, non GMO project verified, Step 4 GAP and pasture raised.
Our pork is no antibiotics, pasture raised, no added hormones, Heritage breed, vegetarian fed.
Our chicken is no antibiotics, pasture raised, no added hormones, vegetarian fed.
Are your cows grassfed AND grass finished?
Yes! All of our cattle are both 100% grassfed and grass finished and rotationally grazed. They are never fed grain.
What do your pigs eat throughout the year?
Our pigs are pasture raised and eat a free choice grain diet. They enjoy what they root and forage on their own in the environment in which they are raised which can include acorns and tubers.
What do your chickens eat throughout the year?
Our chickens are raised on pasture and eat a free choice grain diet. They exhibit their natural instincts in the environment in which they live and can peck and scratch eating grass and insects at their leisure.
What does grass finished mean?
In the growth of a cow, they go through several stages of development. The final stage is referred to as the “finishing” stage and this is when they have reached full maturity when the intramuscular fat is beginning to appear in the muscle. There are two ways that grassfed cattle are finished; 1) they are given grain to add weight quickly or 2) provided grass the entire time. Grass Finished means finished on grass, never fed grain.
How are the layers raised?
The hens that produce our eggs live at Annie Ager’s house. They’re free-range, but not pasture-raised. They have an enclosure that protects them from predators and offers the opportunity for them to eat bugs. Aside from bugs, they eat the same grain as our broiler chickens and drink pure mountain spring water.
How are your animals slaughtered?
All of our processors use techniques considered humane by various meat-industry certification standards, including handling infrastructure designed by Temple Grandin. This is a sensitive topic for many, but we understand some folks might truly want more info about it. Please feel free to call us or stop in to chat if you are one of those folks.
At which markets do you sell your meats?
On Saturdays, we vend at the North Asheville Tailgate Market from 8am-12pm from April-December. You can also find our meats at our on farm store located at 57 Sugar Hollow Road Fairview NC 28730.
Can I put in a special order?
Yes! You can place a special order by emailing us here.
Can I buy your meats at my local grocery store?
You can find our meats at a number of grocery stores in the Southeast United States as well as at our on farm store in Fairview. A current list can be foundhere. If your local grocer does not carry HNG Meats please request them to contact us.
Do you sell bones and organ meats?
We sell both bones and organ meats at the farm store and to our wholesale accounts.
Do you sell livestock?
No, we do not sell live animals.
Do you sell whole, half, or quarter animals?
Yes! This is how our business started and we continue to sell inbulk to our customers at the farm store as well as sell whole animals to our wholesale customers.
Do you sell apples? Are they organic?
Yes! We sell local apples from Lyda Farms in Edneyville, NC. They are not organic. We are working on establishing an organic u-pick apple orchard at our farm.
Do you sell cow heads, stomachs, feet, or blood?
No. Special equipment is needed to process and sell these parts and we do not offer these things at this time.
Do you ship your meat?
We can currently ship our shelf-stable products that do not require refrigeration. These items can ship throughout the United States and can be found in our online store.
Seasonally we also ship frozen meat on dry ice to customers in the United States. Please contact us if you are interested.
Are you a dairy farm? Do you sell dairy?
We USED to be a dairy farm but sold our herd in the late eighties. Currently we raise animals for meat. The cattle used for meat and those used for dairy have different needs. We do sell dairy products in our farm store including: Mills River Creamery, Looking Glass Creamery, Blue Ridge Mountain Creamery, Spinning Spider Creamery, and Ashe County Cheese.
What is the Go Local Card and where do I get one?
The Go Local card is a special savings program set up by the Asheville Grown Business Alliance to encourage patronage at local companies. Hickory Nut Gap Farm is a partner business of this program which means that we accept the Go Local card in our store for special discount offers. You can purchase a card through us to be used throughout the community. Right now, Go Local card holders can present their card at HNG for $1 off event admission and 5% off meat and eggs. The card is only $18 for the entire year, so it will quickly pay for itself! Visit theirsite for more information and for a list of participating businesses.
What is the difference between wholesale and bulk?
In order to qualify for awholesale account, you have to have a current business EIN and E-595E Tax Exemption Form on file. You can apply for an account through our wholesale sales department. This is not a good option for infrequent buyers.
If you have an event or gathering where you want to save money on a large meat purchase, the butchery at the farm store offers both 30 lb bulk discounts on the same cut of meat or whole, half, or quarter animal purchasing as well as a monthly CSA meat option.
How do I qualify for a wholesale account?
To qualify as a wholesale customer, you must be a registered business with an EIN number and supply us with your E-595 form. We cannot sell wholesale products to individuals/ retail customers. We do have bulk meat purchasing options available at the farm store.
Can I pick up my wholesale order at the warehouse?
Yes! Warehouse pick-up is available for established customers on Tuesdays and Thursday from 10am-2pm. Orders must be placed at least 24 hours in advance and noted for pick-up on your order form.
I’m not in Asheville, can I still get HNG meats for my business?
Yes! We work with multiple distributors who carry our products. Contact them directly to place your wholesale order and arrange for delivery. For a list of current distributors, click here. If your distributor is not currently listed, contact them and request that they carry our product. If your distributor is listed and you are having difficulty ordering through them, please contact us and we will be happy to assist.
How is raising cows good for the environment? I thought they produced methane.
While it is true that cows emit methane into the air through their gastrointestinal process, what is not accurate is the data collection method used to determine this environmental impact. Most studies collected data from factory-style farms where hundreds if not thousands of cattle are kept in confinement. The cows are not grazing on the land, benefiting the soils, and allowing the environment to thrive in those situations, so naturally the toxic methane levels are having a negative impact. However, when allowed to rotate on pasture and keep the grasses managed, fertilized, and deep rooted, pasture raised cattle are helping reverse climate change and sequester carbon into mineral rich soils.