Maple Spring Gardens is owned and operated by Ken Dawson and daughter Sunshine Dawson, with support of operations manager Fern Hickey and a seasonal crew. Ken and wife, Libby Outlaw, the longtime face of Maple Spring Gardens at the Durham Farmers’ Market, bought 53 of their current 80 acres at their present location as a worn out, rundown tobacco farm in 1990. Through good land stewardship, it has now become a thriving, biologically rich farm producing an abundance of food and ornamental crops.
Having first sold organically grown vegetables in Orange County in 1972, Ken has farmed full time since 1984, selling produce to local stores such as Wellspring Grocery/Whole Foods Market, to area restaurants and primarily through local farmers’ markets. Ken and Libby have been members of the Carrboro Farmers’ Market for 36 years, and members of the Durham Farmers’ Market since its beginnings in 1999. In 2004, they initiated their CSA program and currently have 170 members. Currently, their produce is sold almost entirely at the Durham and Carrboro farmers’ markets and through their CSA. Daughter, Sunshine, a trained herbalist, returned to the farm in 2013 to develop the herb business at the farm. As Ken is much closer to the end of his farming career than to its beginning, the farm is in transition to the next generation. The folks at Maple Spring Gardens are as committed as ever to offering the highest quality produce, grown by farming methods that are beneficial to the land and safe for themselves, their workers and their customers.
Maple Spring Gardens has always farmed with a commitment to practices that improve the land, promote biodiversity and are safe for those working on the farm and eating their produce. The farm was Certified Organic for over 10 years, ending certification in 2005. However, they remain committed to good stewardship of resources and the environment and producing clean food, wholesome food.