Green Dell Fam stirs spirit of community

Kenny, Jan Cain teach in classroom and on the farm
Oct. 11, 2013 @ 02:59 PM

Some people like to get a little dirt on their hands.

Then there are folks like Kenny and Jan Cain, for whom farming is more than just a hobby. For three years now, the Cains have anxiously awaited the arrival of fall, which means harvest season for the co-owners of Green Dell Farm. But unlike most farmers, they do not spend sunup to sundown out in the fields, cultivating their crops. They spend more than 40 hours a week in a classroom.

"Our children call us workaholics," Jan said.

By day, Kenny teaches electrical trades at Ledford High School and Jan instructs business technology students at Brown Middle. After school, it's off to their property on the corner of Sullivan Road and Cunningham Road, just southwest of Thomasville. This is where their agritourism operation began and where it currently thrives.

The farm  requires countless hours of sweat equity from constant tractor maintenance, cutting firewood and other various tasks. Some days are 14 hours long.

"I could spend all day around here, just messing with tractors, working on the farm," Kenny said. "When you enjoy what you're doing, it's different. It's relaxing."

The educators opened Green Dell in September 2011, when it all began with the inaugural Pumpkin Fest. Every fall, the Cains invite the public to participate in farm tours that start at the 1,200-square-foot cabin — which the couple remodeled themselves — and spills out into a wildlife wonderland.

A mile-long hayride through the woods leads visitors through their extensive property of more than 100 acres which features a corn maze, picnic area and playground area. At the cabin, pumpkins, produce and mums are available for purchase. Some of these items are grown at Green Dell but the rest, including a massive pumpkin collection, are brought in from the Appalachian Mountains.

"Here in the Piedmont, we can't grow enough [to meet the demand], so we rely on fellow farmers to help supply," Jan said. "Last year, we sold over 600 pumpkins."

By almost any measure, Green Dell would be considered a success, but the Cains have plans in the work to expand.

"We were fortunate enough to be awarded a grant for pond construction, so that we can have an irrigation system," Jan said. "With the installation of that, we'll have a fresh water source we'll be able to irrigate with. With the installation of the pond, we will be able to set out strawberries, which will become our main spring thing."

Strawberries are the beginning of what they believe will be an exciting spring season, which will include Easter activities, egg hunts and things of that nature. Later in the year, closer to the end of November, the vision already has them making phone calls to arrange for a Christmas tree lot at the cabin.

"We have toyed with the idea since we opened to the public of having a Christmas season here on the farm," said Jan. "We're probably going to start with the basic tree lot, fire pit and things like that. It's just kind of finding and feeling out our niche for that. That way, we can build a niche with spring, summer, fall and Christmas."

Their toil is not without aim. The Cains hope through their efforts, students, co-workers and residents of their hometown can recapture the sense of kinship and loyalty they say once embodied the town.

"Thomasville was very in touch with community," Kenny said. "At TFI, we worked hard together and played hard together."

Brick by brick — or, in this case, board by board — Kenny and Jan are enabling the Chair City to do so once again.

Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or kennedy@tvilletimes.com.

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