Welcome to Renfrow Farms, the agrarian facet of the Renfrow Hardware business and physical embodiment of the gardening knowledge we share with all who seek to learn.
David Blackley, owner of Renfrow Hardware, purchased the hardware store from Frank Renfrow, the last generation of the Renfrow family, back in the 1980s. Mr. Frank Renfrow remained a business partner until his death in 2010, when he left his home estate in downtown Matthews to the hardware store. The Blackley family decided to use that land to start a farm that would support and complement Renfrow Hardware’s growing gardening business.
David and Mary Beth’s eldest daughter Pressly, upon graduating from NC State in December 2013, moved back to town to join the family business and become the resident farmer. She also works at the hardware store, especially during the cold winter and busy spring. David’s sister, Ruth Harris, joined the ranks in the spring of 2014 and works with Pressly several days each week.
A large portion of the farm’s 9 acres of land was cultivated for a few generations, though not during the past several decades. We are working hard to restore the land to its previous reputation for being some of the richest and best soil in Matthews.
There are four main components that we are currently focusing on and seeking to further develop in the upcoming seasons:
- Mutually beneficial relationship between farm and hardware store. Once we have a greenhouse, we will be growing vegetable plants to sell at Renfrow Hardware in the spring. Renfrow’s serves as the pick-up spot for produce boxes sold by the farm. The farm currently supplies all firewood for our famous potbelly stove in the winter. We grow several crops whose seeds and bulbs we sell at the hardware – cowpeas, multiplier onions, garlic, edamame soybeans. We host gardening classes on the farm so that folks can see, touch, and experience what we are teaching.
- Commitment to health and sustainability. Our current offerings are through a weekly “produce box” subscription program, at Renfrow Farms Market, which is our on-farm stand open April-December, and at Renfrow Hardware periodically. Also, you may enjoy our produce when dining at several local restaurants. We also sell pure, raw honey from our farm’s 50 beehives at Renfrow Hardware year-round.
- Community education. The local food movement is here to stay! Many people in the Charlotte area are eager to take greater control over their family’s food through gardening in their own backyards, so we teach gardening classes on a variety of topics at the farm.
- Preservation of heritage. Matthews started out as a community of family farms. A rich segment of the Matthews-area history is through saving seeds– growing various unique and hard-to-find beans and cowpeas that have been grown in this area for generations and selling the seeds at Renfrow’s for home gardeners. We are also preserving the stories behind these seeds and the folks who grew them. In 2014 we will also be growing cotton plants for ornamental use. The seeds were saved from the Renfrow Cotton Gin (destroyed by hurricane Hugo in 1989) so are the exact variety of cotton that used to be grown all over Matthews.