2017 Recipient: Doubletree Farm

Catherine Guthrie Bennett, Doubletree Farm

$3,000 — Sorghum Syrup Expansion

Cathy purchased equipment to streamline her sorghum syrup processing with the goal of increasing her production to 500 gallons per season.

Cathy purchased a new wagon to store larger quantity of harvested cane. To ensure she has enough sorghum, she plans to recruit additional growers, offering one-on-one consultations and then processing their sorghum for them. She also purchased equipment such as an immersion chiller to help speed up the production process. She also intends to eventually upgrade her mill to an automated version in order to boost production. Her current antique horse-powered mill is perfect for farm demonstrations.

She also added a refractometer to measure the ‘brix’ or sugar content of both the raw cane and the finished product. “While I have relied quite successfully on the folk knowledge and teaching of elder sorghum growers, the use of these scientific tools will help me document the consistency of my product,” Cathy said. Other equipment like an immersion chiller and lift will make the production process less labor intensive and will save time.

In recent years, Cathy has not been able to meet the demand for her product. French Broad Food Co-op, Madison Natural Foods, Laurel River Store and Boone Street Market all sell out each year. Anson Mills, LLC, a wholesale client, has introduced Cathy’s molasses to chefs in all parts of the country. President Glenn Roberts said that the syrup is gone as soon as he gets it. “The Anson Mills chef client base is global, and each year we have a waiting list for Double Tree Farm Sorghum Syrup,” he said.

Cathy also expanded her agritourism venture. She is opening up her farm to regular tours with the Asheville Farm to Table Tours during September and October. The organization expects to offer eight tours at Doubletree Farm the fall of 2017 with an average of 10 people on each tour. Cathy is compensated for her time, and guests typically purchase product.

With the increased income, Cathy expects to hire part-time workers rather than solely rely on volunteers and apprentices.

The sorghum making took off after Doubletree Farm received a WNC AgOptions grant in 2008. Cathy has since trained other WNC AgOptions recipients and other growers in sorghum making. She also sells heirloom corn and breeds dairy goats, and, from 1995 to 2015, produced mixed vegetables for tailgate markets.

 

 

 

Madison County

 

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