Beginnings of Fireside Farm
Brought together by their shared love for swimming in the Eno River and reading Adrienne Rich's work, Randall and Lisa fell in love in 2004 while teaching at Duke Young Writers Camp. Three years later, they took John Prine’s advice, smashed their TV, and moved to the country. It was a drought year in 2007, so they sought land with a deep well. They found nine remote acres with a spring on it near the Cane Creek Reservoir.
Knowing more about line breaks than carpentry, Randall started building sheds and coops made out of construction pallets, junk, and cedar logs. Early visitors described the farm compound as looking like a stage set for a dilapidated saloon town.
In 2010, Randall and Lisa started teaching at Carolina Friends School together, and their farm became a retreat space for their students and friends. They also started to sell at the Saxapahaw Farmers’ Market and to local restaurants. In 2014, they added a sawmill to the farm to convert the property’s pine trees to lumber.
Demand for live edge slabs and custom milling led Randall to begin offering sawmill services part-time. In 2017, Randall and Lisa took a leap of faith and went all-in for their big dream: to create a farm devoted to sustainable living, growing high quality flowers, and caring for their community.
Randall started his life as a child actor in Charlotte. After a brief kiss with Reese Witherspoon in a feature film directed by Diane Keaton (Wildflower), he found it necessary to live on the downlow to avoid the paparazzi. Initially this took the form of racing mountain bikes, but after a high school teacher turned him onto Zen and the sweet silences of nature, he was hooked on expansive spaces. He moved to Asheville, fell in love with the Blue Ridge Parkway, and ran away into the mountains. After a short stint with the Asheville Mediation Center, he moved to Chapel Hill where he finished up his Philosophy and English degree at UNC. A job at a Sufi-run tea house (Silk Road) introduced him to some young local farmers, and he moved into a farmhouse in Saxapahaw.
Soonafter he got a job as a reporter at the Mebane Enterprise, where he covered traffic accidents and other titillating small town news. In 2000, he started writing creative nonfiction for the Independent Weekly, McSweeney’s, Salon, and other publications.
Around 2002, he found poetry to be his medium, and he spent a couple of years giving readings and publishing as a part of the Lucifer Poetics Group (Lucipo) while working as a videographer/photographer and venture market newsletter editor. His love for language led him back into the classroom and eventually to Carolina Friends School, where he spent seven years teaching a wide range of classes-- from Permaculture to American Literature.
His most popular class, Quaker Advocacy, invited students to conduct public policy research, use consensus process to craft school-wide declarations, and lobby Congress for legislative change. It was through his Quaker Advocacy class that he first began to understand the severity of the climate crisis, which led him to devote his energies to permaculture, local economics, and regenerative agriculture.
Born in Newfoundland, Canada on a US Naval Base during the Vietnam War, Lisa entered the world unapologetically raw. The child of two avid homesteaders who found themselves living in suburban Durham in the mid 70s, Lisa grew up in the garden and tending to a menagerie of pets. When she wasn't in full sprint behind her younger brother or reading voraciously, she was shelling peas poolside at Hollow Rock during the summers.
It was her first job at Ninth Street Bakery in 1988 that taught her about worker-owned businesses and how to live in community. A year later, her passion for distance running led her to Emory University, where she discovered backroom Indigo Girl concerts and ecofeminism. After finishing up her English degree at UNC-Chapel Hill and her Masters in Education at NC State, Lisa started teaching language arts in one of the first cohorts at McDougle Middle School in Carrboro.
In 1995, she moved onto the infamous Davie Circle, where she delighted in the Chapel Hill street’s quirky cast of characters and the town's burgeoning music scene. In 2010, her love for social justice and creative writing led her to teach at Carolina Friends School, where she helped students start the first Middle School Gay-Straight Alliance in North Carolina. The group, known as GLOW (Gay, Lesbian, Or Whatever), has been a model for other middle school clubs across the state and still engages in local activism. In addition to literature-based classes, Lisa offered classes in feminism, fiber art, and farming (including the popular Go Go Goats!). In 2016, after going part-time at Carolina Friends School, Lisa joined forces with her friend Heather LaGarde to serve as Manager of the Saturdays in Saxapahaw Farmer's Market and Music Series, which includes local musicians, a farmers’ market, and other events at the Haw River Ballroom. And in 2019, after 24 years in the classroom, Lisa retired from teaching to take up flower farming full-time. She still serves as the Market Manager in Saxapahaw, but most days she can be found at Fireside Farm: planting, harvesting, weeding, and doing floral design for weddings and events around the Triangle area.