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Spruill Farm Conservation Project

Roper, North Carolina

This CNG designation applies to the fig bushes which are an important element of the cultural history of the farm and our Farm Conservation Project.

The 23 heritage bushes are considered to be the Brown Turkey variety. They have been on the farm since at least 1914 when my grandparents purchased it. By nature the bushes form figs on prior years' / old-growth stems when the bushes begin to leaf out in March and April. Those figs are destined to ripen between mid-June and early July. The ones that do ripen are very large and are highly prized by us humans and mockingbirds. Unfortunately, these first crop figs are vulnerable to cold snaps in April or May that can cause them to shrivel and fall off.

The second crop begin to form on new stem growth in June. Without fail there is a large crop of figs that begin to ripen about mid-August and continue for at least a month. They are not so large as the first crop, but are at least as sweet and flavorful.

Since 2013 we have begun to add other named and unnamed heritage verieties to add diversity to the orchard and to try to have at least some figs ripening continually from early July into early October.

The bushes thrive without any fertilizer, lime, human watering or chemicals of any type. The soil pH at the bushes is approximately 6.2. Grass and weeds are controlled mechanically. In the winter we remove any woody vines that are attempting to get established and remove all dead and broken branches. We do not thin the bushes or prune them for ease of picking so as to help shade out competing vegetation and to give the birds their fair share of figs at the top of the bushes. The bushes are constantly producing new scions at their bases, ensuring their perpetuity as the old trunks die out or are broken in storms.

The photos include an image of the 3 Chinese characters which ranslate: "fig." This was provided by Mari Yoshinaga who is a student of horticulture and a gardener in London. Mari reports that the literal translation of those three characters is: "no flower fruit." Mari and I find that an irony since the inside of the fig fruit is mostly hundreds of flowers. So when we enjoy a fig we are really eating its flowers.

Georgia Spruill has kindly written a "heritage" recipe for making fig preserves from these bushes. https://www.facebook.com/notes/spruill-farm-conservation-project/georgia-spruills-recipe-for-fig-preserves/944416285597424

In total the farm has 110 acres, with 75 acres in row crop cultivation. It has 1,600 feet of undeveloped frontage on the Albemarle Sound, the largest freshwater sound in the world. The total Farm Conservation Project involves donating the farm to have a perpetual life of some combination of low-impact public access, conservation activities, wildlife habitat improvement, sustainable (hopefully CNG designated) production of fruits and vegetables, education and research.

The 75 cleared acres are mostly of the AltaVista fine sandy loam, Wahee fine sandy loam and Roanoke loam soil types. The area receives approximately 50 inches of rain annually and the water table is within 15 feet of the surface.

In years past there was commercial production of Kieffer pears, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, tomatoes, green peas, molasses cane, asparagus and cucumbers on the farm. The farm has a huge white Scuppernong grape vine growing on an overhead trellis that has been on the farm since at least 1914. Family vegetable gardens on the farm have found the soil to be excellent for all root vegetables. We are confident that it is feasible for there to once again be successful commercial production of similar fruits and vegetables on the farm.

www.facebook.com/spruillfarm * jspruill@spruillfarm.org

The CNG application and approval process was open to considering an "island" of fig bushes growing at the historic home site and barn yard in the middle of a 75-acre farm engaged in traditional farming practices. The staff of Certified Naturally Grown were splendid to work with in the application process.

(This listing was last updated on February 09, 2023)


767 Spruill Loop Road
NC State Road 1318
Roper, NC 27970
Washington County

Mailing Address:
1836 Corcus Ferry Road
Hampstead, NC 28443


Applications for CNG Status