Sweet potatoes are another one of those things I never knew I liked until recently… And holy moly, did I find out I like them! Honestly, they are delicious and it works out great they are good for you too! I was tickled when Heather shared this fantastic recipe with me.. At first I thought, sweet potatoes as a spread..?? But once I tried this recipe, I was sold! This will be made the next time we have company over! Thanks Heather!
- When did you start farming? What brought you into farming?
I married a farmer! My dad grew up on a farm but moved to the city when he graduated high school. I lived in cities and towns, never in the country. Attending college at Virginia Tech as an Animal Science major opened my eyes to production agriculture and I loved the hands-on work with livestock. I decided to change my focus from pre-vet to production.
After graduation I went to work as an Agriculture Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension. There I worked with farmers and 4-H members. I learned a great deal about farming from the producers I worked with but it wasn’t until I met my (now) husband that I really learned what it takes to grow our food. I work full-time for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and I’m constantly in awe of the men and women who grow or raise our food.
- What has been the hardest part of farming for you?
The hardest part of being a farm spouse is the time commitment. Farming is not a 9-5, Monday-Friday occupation. It takes a special person to farm, but also to be a farm wife.
During the planting and harvesting season, which is about ten months out of the year for us, my husband will leave home at 6 a.m. and get home sometime after dark. Depending on the whether he may work seven days a week, trying to get the crop planted or harvested. This leaves little time for us as a family. We often ride in the tractor with my husband to have time together; in fact we’ve celebrated every Father’s Day in the combine picking wheat.
- What is your favorite thing to do with a food crop you grow?
I admit the first time I had a baked sweet potato, I was not a fan. I still don’t care for baked sweet potatoes but have found many recipes using them in ways I never considered. You can do more with a sweet potato than bake it, put it in a pie or a casserole. My favorite recipe is a Cheesy Sweet Potato Sausage Spread shared below. I first sampled at a recipe contest two years ago. I also love Chocolate Chip Sweet Potato muffins and Sweet Potato Chicken pizza. Traditionally sweet potatoes are thought of as a vegetable to serve at Thanksgiving but our farmers can supply them and you can cook with them all year long.
Below is a video of sweet potato harvest! To read more all about digging sweet potatoes, visit Heather’s Women in Ag post!
Future of Farming
- What is one message you’d like to get across to the general public about what you do?
I keep hearing people talk about the “small, family farm”. Why does a family farm have to be small? I know fourth, fifth, sixth and even seventh generation farms that started small and have continued to grow over the years but are still owned by a family. Why should we hold the fact they have been successful, changed to meet market demands and continued to grow and support their families against them?
There is a place for family farms of all sizes; from the first generation, one –acre farm that sells at the local farmer’s market to the sixth generation farm that grows crops on several thousand acres and sells wholesale or ships internationally.
By some definitions, our farm would not be considered a family farm, but at the end of the day it’s my husband and his father making the decisions. Our family is working the land and continuing to lay down roots for my son and future generations. We care about the land and our environment and take pride in the crops we grow, whether we cultivate one acre or several thousand.
To read more from Heather, you can check out her features over at Agriculture.com’s Women in Ag series. I also cannot wait to try the other recipes Heather shared with us, who would have thought sweet potatoes could be so versatile!?
I LOVED this spread so much I ate it for supper one evening. It has so much flavor and a little bit of spice! It’s delicious. I used Italian sausage I made (salt, pepper, garlic, sugar, & white wine). You can use whatever kind of sausage is your favorite!
- 2 cups sweet potato, 1/4 inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound sausage (I used italian)
- 1/4 cup onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 oz. Colby Jack cheese, shredded
- 8 oz. cream cheese
- 1 (15 oz.) can Italian diced tomatoes (slightly drained)
- 1 baguette
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1-2 oz. parmesan cheese, shredded
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine olive oil and cayenne pepper. Toss sweet potatoes gently to coat. Spread evenly on a baking pan and bake 350 degrees for 35-40 min or until tender.
- In a medium frying pan, add sausage, chopped onion, and chopped red bell pepper. Cook until brown. Drain grease and add garlic. Cook for 2-3 min.
- Add cream cheese, ¼ cup of Colby Jack cheese, roasted sweet potatoes and canned tomatoes. Stir to combine.
- Add sausage mixture to a greased baking dish. Top with the remaining Colby jack cheese, and bake until cheese is melted, approx. 5 minutes.
- Serve with Toasted Baguettes
- Turn up oven to 375 degrees.
- Cut French loaf in slices
- In a small bowl add Italian seasoning to olive oil and mix well.
- Brush olive oil mixture onto each slice of bread and place on baking sheet.
- Sprinkle finely shredded parmesan cheese to cover bread pieces.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 7 min. or until toasty.