What is your role at TLC? I serve as our Farm Manager at Walnut Hill Farm. Our farm is located on the Sarah and Bailey Williamson Preserve in eastern Wake County. Walnut Hill Farm is a beautiful mosaic of farm fields, woodlands, ponds, and creeks. The Farm is a restorative landscape that connects members of the community to agricultural, historic, and natural resources. My work is to help implement the following six farm goals as laid out in our Agricultural Concept Plan:
- Become a site of demonstration, innovation, and training for farmers
- Establish successful models of sustainable/ regenerative agriculture in the southeast.
- Integrate livestock, annuals, and perennials into the site.
- Plan for a diversity of crops and growing systems
- Offer agricultural educational programming.
- Expand options for local food and healthy eating in the Triangle Region
In addition to farming activities, I have the privilege of working onsite to monitor our trail systems that link bikers and hikers to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and the East Coast Greenway. I also work closely with members of the Williamson family, surrounding neighbors and community partners to bring agricultural activities back onto the land for all to enjoy!
Favorite TLC Preserve: As the Farm Manager of Walnut Hill Farm I have to say I am a bit biased toward the Sarah and Bailey Williamson Preserve. The 405- acre Preserve is located in eastern Wake County near the city of Knightdale and the town of Shotwell. In addition to its agricultural and historical significance, Walnut Hill Farm contains contiguous, unfragmented forests as well as several streams that drain into Marks Creek and the Neuse River. The NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources has identified the southwest portion of the property as a Natural Heritage Site. The property is also adjacent to the Riverwalk conservation tract to the south, which is owned by the State and under a stewardship management agreement with the Town of Clayton. The Riverwalk tract links Walnut Hill Farm to the Neuse River and the Neuse River Greenway, segments of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. The Preserve and Farm are slated to open on April 25, 2020 to the general public. Part of my role is to welcome members of the public to the Preserve and to partner with farmers who need access to land.
Eliza was raised in downtown Durham where she graduated from Durham School of the Arts with a love of painting and gardening. She received her bachelor’s degree from the College of Charleston in Fine Art with a minor in Environmental Studies. She is pursuing a master’s degree in Landscape Architecture at the College of Design at NC State University and hopes to continue to overlap design and farming at Walnut Hill Farm.
Eliza has worked with a number of local agricultural organizations in the Triangle over the last decade including: Sol Food Mobile Farm, LoMo Market, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Bee Downtown, and the Hub Farm. She has also served as a member of the Durham Food and Farm Network (DFFN), the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA), a board member for the Durham Public School’s Hub Farm and a current member of the Capital Area Food Network (CAFN). Eliza is also the owner of Panther Creek Farm, a 28-acre agroforestry farm in east Durham County, that she has developed with her family since 2014.
Eliza is thrilled about her Farm Manager role at Walnut Hill as it weaves together cultural heritage, habitat restoration, local food systems, and regenerative farming. She is excited to work with school groups, co-host events on the farm and revitalize Walnut Hill as an ecological and agricultural hub for the region. When she’s not busy farming, Eliza enjoys cooking, swimming in the Eno River, and hiking with her wife and two dogs.