The Organics: Heart and Hands Cheryl and Ray

This profile is a seminal component of a major work portfolio head lighting organic farmers whose hands are as expressive as their faces, and whose hearts have lead them to a proactive life of caring for the earth and others.

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Cheryl Ferguson and Ray Tuegel – Plum Granny Farm

“Growing up on the farm, I really never saw myself coming back and making a life here – I needed to get away and create my own story,” Cheryl Ferguson of Plum Granny Farm in Piedmont North Carolina explains.  “But once I entered my 40s, I started thinking about the potential of returning to my family farm and creating a special place here with Ray for us to share with others.”

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Cheryl Teague as teenage farmer

Cheryl Ferguson and Ray Tuegel met when Cheryl moved to Richmond, VA (and away from NC) in 1979 and they were married in 1984 in Washington, DC.  Busy professional lives in public health and IT, and a move to New Mexico, left little time for farm fantasies.  As Cheryl’s parents aged and health declined, the farm conversation came up but was never resolved.  Finally, after her father passed away in 2007, the discussions became more focused.  “We knew that the farm was a special place and we wanted to make sure it was preserved as a working farm,” said Ray.

Although they have no formal training in farming, they bring skills from their former lives.  Cheryl notes, “I’m a cause person – perfect training for a farmer.”  And Ray’s background in corporate IT management brings a business orientation to the task.  In their constant refinement of  their formula for sustainability, Ray knew from the very beginning a necessary ingredient.  “Farming is a business!”

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They have always been drawn to the open spaces; it is only natural that they have ended up back home to celebrate a culturally rich community and a way of life.

 

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