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The Deep-Rooted

Gardener

At Shelton Herb Farm, Meg Shelton honors her family’s extraordinary heritage of two centuries on the land by growing exquisite herbs and vegetables

W

By Barbara J. Sullivan • Photographs by Mark Steelman

hen Meg Shelton pores over seed catalogs and planting schedules in her office, a venerable 1830 white clapboard farmhouse outside of Leland, she’s only yards away from the carriage path where her grandfather used to pull up in his horse and buggy after a long day of rural doctoring. She’s within sight of the flowerbed where her mother planted zinnias and marigolds every year on Good Friday. She can see the magnolia she and her brother clambered up when they wanted to spy down on the world from their treehouse. The office, operational headquarters for Shelton Herb Farm, sits next door to Meg’s own house on a large, wooded property on Goodman Road just off Highway 17 in Brunswick County. Meg is one of those rare Americans living on the same plot of land as her greatgrandparents, her grandparents and her parents — a place so dense with family history and a connection with the land that even the wild turkeys in her woods are descended from turkeys her great-grandfather might have hunted back in the 1860s. The homestead is one of North Carolina’s Century Farms; although, in

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Salt • May 2014

this case, it’s been closer to 200 years that the Goodmans and their descendants have lived on the same piece of land. The farm, now home to thousands of herbs, vegetables and flowers grown in the ground, in containers on wooden benches and in greenhouses and hoop houses, was originally the home of Meg’s great-grandfather, Lt. Allison Goodman, a Civil War veteran who fought at Fort Fisher. His son, in addition to being a rural doctor, invested in the naval stores industry and bought up hundreds of acres of longleaf pine forest to tap for turpentine. As a teenager, Meg’s father hunted in those same woods for rabbit, quail, duck and deer — sometimes with his friend Robert Ruark. Ruark later referred to his time on the Goodman property in his famous book The Old Man and the Boy. Between the time Meg was a little girl helping her mother weed the vegetable garden and the time she returned as an adult, she’s lived in places as close as Morehead City, Greensboro and Raleigh and as far away as Hawaii. Before coming full circle to the Goodman homestead she picked up two biology degrees, got married and started a family. The Art & Soul of Wilmington

May Salt 2014  

Art & Soul of Wilmington

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