photographs by Anagram Photo

Jamie DeMent woke up one beautiful April morning 13 years ago and thought, as she listened to birdsong coming in through the window of the house at Coon Rock Farm, that she didn’t want to go to work. Why spend precious time driving from Hillsborough to Raleigh when she could pursue a dream? To live on her husband’s farm not just on the weekends, but every day, and to open a restaurant or two to showcase the farm’s bounty.

DeMent followed through on her daydream. She and her husband, Richard Holcomb, now run Coon Rock Farm full-time, growing more than 100 varieties of mostly heirloom fruits, vegetables, and herbs throughout the year. Fertilizer is provided courtesy of rotating herds of pigs and flocks of chickens. Conscientious consumers buy meat and produce through Coon Rock Farm’s CSA and online farmers market, Bella Bean Organics, and the couple completes the farm-to-fork pipeline at their Durham restaurant, Piedmont.

Whether she’s testing a recipe for the restaurant, her next cookbook, or tomorrow’s dinner, DeMent is a force in her home kitchen, tasting sauces and hollering for Holcomb to bring in a few radishes. The food she cooks comes from steps away, and only in season.

Though Coon Rock Farm and Piedmont are separate ventures, they nourish each other. “There are days we’re picking and hundreds of eggplants are ready right this minute,” DeMent says. Having a restaurant allows the couple to use an abundance of produce, even that dented heirloom tomato or blemished broccoli. “We can still take something imperfect and turn it into a gourmet meal.”

Coon Rock Farm
1021 Dimmocks Mill Road
Hillsborough, NC 27278
(919) 732-4168

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Jennifer Brookland is a journalist and former U.S. Air Force officer who was stationed in Fayetteville and deployed to Djibouti and the Comoros Island. She lives in Durham.