Acadian Family Farm
“I’ve been on these farms now so long that it’s in my blood, I guess.” Rod Ardoin is, if nothing else, the salt of the earth. The digger plods along, turning up row after row of sweet potatoes, all organic, all hoed by hand, and all brought into the world with tremendous love and labor.
Holiday season is synonymous with sweet potato season, but sixty percent of the nation’s sweet potatoes are grown in North Carolina, visited so recently by Hurricane Florence. There, sadly, this year’s crop is in dire straits. But the one at Acadian Family Farm is a sight to behold. Bins are brimming with the orangey-skinned tubers, some awaiting their turn in the wash and others curing in the still-warm temperatures. That’s what brings out their sweetness, Rod explains. Like most good things, there’s no use rushing the process.
The Ardoins moved to Oklahoma seven years ago by way of Austin, where they farmed ten good acres to supply the local demand for organic produce. “When I started back in Austin,” Rod recounts, “everybody thought that all this organic boom was just for small farms. Organics were here way before I came along. I have friends who were in it way back, just the little hippie farms, you know, mashing the garlic to spray for bugs.”
It’s no secret that industrial-scale farms are cashing in on organic now, too, and squeezing out smaller operations across the country in the process. The work on small, family farms is hard—unbelievably hard—and the payoff is more often in knowing you supplied wholesome food for your community’s table than in any grand-scale monetary sense. “The fun part of the business,” Rod smiles, brushing off the system-wide troubles, “is giving people good food.”
By the look of the heaps of sweet potatoes gracing the barn, there is no shortage here. As the holidays gear up, orders from local grocery operations start pouring in, although Acadian sweet potatoes can be found at farmers markets as well. Nanette, Rod’s wife, helms recipe development at the farm, and my ears perk up at the mention of sweet potato biscuits. The namesake ingredient imparts an extra sweetness, Nanette explains, and under no circumstances should they be served without butter. Organic, if you have it.