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.
Pressly and her husband Matt welcomed the first member of the sixth generation in the family business, their daughter Rosalyn, in summer 2018. Rosalyn tags along with most things at the farm and hardware store and has become our favorite thing to watch grow! Each year is different here on the farm and we are continuously evolving the business as we learn what works best for us in our unique niche as one of the only urban/suburban farms in the area.
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. The hardware store is the shopping location for produce and flowers Wednesdays-Saturdays year-round, as items are available. 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 store – 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.
- 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.