Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives
Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives

Neil Shore
Farmer and Owner/President, Sanders Ridge

Boonville, North Carolina
Farm Credit Affiliation
Carolina Farm Credit
Neil's Perspective

Neil Shore is the proprietor of Sanders Ridge Winery, including Big Woods Zip Line, the Hearth Restaurant and a USDA certified organic farm. After a lifetime as a tobacco farmer, Neil recognized that the tobacco industry was changing and proactively evolved and diversified his agricultural operation to not only support his family but also his community.

“My inspiration is my love of farming, of my family, and of the land,” says Neil. “Growing up on a farm and raising my own family as a full-time farmer has been a rich and wonderful experience. It is my life’s desire to keep the farmland - on which I and my ancestors have lived and earned our livelihoods for five generations - in our family and in sustainable agriculture.”

Neil began by planting a vineyard on farmland that had been in his family for more than 150 years. Using local businesses to build the associated winery, today Sanders Ridge employs more than 10 full time staff and another 15 part time staff, contributing significantly to the local economy. Neil has also mentored and helped launch the careers of many of the winemakers and chefs in the area.

Neil’s organic farm helps to support sustainability and promote locally sourced food. The organic farm’s many visitors come to learn about and have a hand in growing their own food in a sustainable way. Local meats and cheeses are often used in the cooking at the Hearth Restaurant at Sanders Ridge, another of Neil’s enterprises. A recreational zip line rounds out his operation.

“Farming has changed a lot since I was born into it 65 years ago. I see a lot of exciting innovations but also a lot of challenges ahead,” Neil says. “I believe that the future of agriculture can be bright and promising provided that we can attract a new breed of young farmers, and they and the innovators who support them with technology and science will need to find an equitable balance between sustainability and capitalism.”

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