Since 2009, a group called Know Your Farms has been organizing tours of local farms in the Charlotte area. Their mission is to promote local organic food and connect people to the farmers who live near them.
There aren't many farms in Mecklenburg County. But one of the few remaining farms is in south Charlotte called "Wish We Had Acres" and it's a goat farm. It was the only farm in Charlotte on the "Know Your Farms Tour" this weekend.
Every 30 minutes, Dr. David Hamilton starts his tour in front of a pole barn from the 1950s.
He points out the "bearded ladies" -- three female goats (or does) that are sticking their heads out in between the metal bars. They produce the milk that his wife, Laura Denyes, uses to make handmade goat milk soap.
"Why do we use goat milk in our soap? It has caprylic and caprinic acids in it, which help soften and reduce scar tissue in the skin," Hamilton explains. "Also, it's antimicrobial and it takes all the vitamins and minerals from the grass and applies them to your skin. So why not?"
Goat Milk Soap
Denyes sells her soap at the Atherton Mill farmer's market in Charlotte on Saturdays. She explains how she got started.
"Day one to three is awesome for drinking. Up to day 10, excellent for cooking with. Past day 10, it starts to turn," Denyes says. "And that's when it starts to taste a little bit more like the goat milk that you buy at a store. Well at that point, we'll go ahead and use it as a soap. So for us, it was a way of storing a resource we didn't want to waste."
There are nine goats on this farm. The goats used to be on a one-acre farm in Phoenix. But earlier this year, Hamilton got a job offer to practice holistic medicine with the Carolinas Natural Health Center in Matthews. So they now live on a five-acre farm called "Wish We Had Acres" in south Charlotte. They raise goats and harvest medicinal herbs.
"This is Phytolacca or pokeweed," Hamilton says. "And the part that you use on this plant is the root. So I use this for stagnation, which means congestion in the sinuses or swollen lymph nodes."
One of the visitors this weekend, Lori Kennedy, says she brings her kids to the farms every year.
"I think it's important for them to see less of a processed world and get more in touch with nature and loving the land and appreciating animals," Kennedy says. "And just trying to develop a healthier lifestyle."
She and her son left the farm with two loaves of bread, natural non-toxic deodorant and a brochure on how to volunteer.