Something exciting is happening in Georgia. Instead of yet another subdivision springing up where there used to be farmland, developers on the coastal area of Interstate 95 are working with the earth. The result is Hampton Island Preserve, a 4,000 acre protected area of maritime forest, marsh, pasture, lake and winding limestone roadways that offers members a secluded, private getaway, whether they build their own home or take advantage of one of the existing guest cottages. The heart of the property is the 16-acre Harvest Lake Farm, with its two-storey barn, herbal treatment spa and educational interpretive centre. "You immediately gain a sense of comfort and groundedness when you visit the farm," says Cory Mosser, the Farm Manager of Hampton Island. "Growing food acts like a speed bump for our fast-paced lives. The beet will be ready in its own time, and that process forces you to be serene."
One of the only farm-centred communities in North America, Hampton Island employs farmers as stewards of the community, ensuring a longevity of sustainable agriculture. With a soil consisting of a soggy clay and sand mixture amended with biodynamic compost over the years, the earth here is fertile. Members of Hampton Island Preserve enjoy greens, sweet potatoes, peppers, melons, squash, beans, beets and tomatoes, while the surplus is sold at a nearby farmers' market in Savannah. In addition, 200 varieties of tea herbs are grown for use in meals and spa treatments. When we visited, Hampton Island's chef, Paul Paskins, created the delicious dishes shown here with produce picked fresh that morning. The best part for Cory? "I get to meet the people that eat the food I grow," he says. "There's nothing more rewarding to me than to have a guest leave the farm determined to start their own garden, or to support local farmers in their area." Sounds like life is good.