CAROLINA ALUMNI REVIEW 71
Inside an 1870s farmhouse in Hillsborough, Jamie DeMent ’01 is preparing chicken pot pies. It’s only 9 a.m., but the broth is already bubbling in a pot on the stove.
It was nothing like this when she was
leading “a fabulous, glamorous life” working
for a congressman on Capitol Hill. Now,
she has to be ready when field hands come
in for lunch.
It was nothing like this in the
6,000-square-foot house in Country Club
Hills in Raleigh, before DeMent and her
partner and his four children started visiting
the farm, when it was just a getaway, just a
After she came back to North Carolina to raise money for the state Museum
of Natural Sciences, after she met Richard Holcomb at a cocktail party, after she
absorbed his pickup line …
“He told me he was going to kill chickens the next day. And I thought, ‘Dear God,
you’re going to do what?’And a month
later, I came out here to help him kill
chickens. And it all evolved from there.”
Now, when she tells her Morehead-Cain
alumni gathering at UNC, “I’m a farmer,”
her modesty is unsustainable. “They said,
‘Jamie, you’re not just a farmer. Tell us what
you really do.’ ”
A better question is what does she not
The couple runs four businesses. Only
one of them is a farm. DeMent and Holcomb manage two online farming businesses and own Piedmont, a restaurant in
This is not the life that the Southern
history and African-American studies double major imagined for herself. She loved
her time in Washington. “But while I was
having fun, it wasn’t fulfilling me,” DeMent
said. “Something was calling me back to
One bathroom for six
On a farm day, she says, “sometimes
you’re up to your elbows in pig manure and
thinking, ‘Dear God, how did I get here?’ ”
The 1,100-square-foot house — built
on a foundation of halved pine trees — sits
on 55 acres along the Eno River. Coon
Rock Farm, named for a large rock situated
along a former Native American trading
path, spreads over three satellite properties
the couple rents for additional land where
times a week, when a milk cow and her
calf escaped toward the highway overpass.
Everyone ran to catch them.
“And as soon as we came up, she got
that look in her eye like, ‘I’m going to head
toward Highway 40.’ ” Corralling the cows
back down the driveway involved a lot of
arm-waving and yelling.
Or the time DeMent was on the farm
by herself and, looking out the window, discovered three pigs in the bed of broccoli.
“I could see the entire broccoli crop
disappearing in seconds. And the only thing
I could do was just run straight into the
garden, but just one person can’t herd them,
so I stood with the pigs for three hours
until Richard got home with the children
to help move the pigs.
“And there’s stories like that on an
Kale, cows and lambs
Walking around the farm, livestock
manager Brock Phillips ’09, another
Morehead-Cain Scholar, said he’d been an
intern who couldn’t leave.
“I met a girl and then met a farm and
The idyll of escaping
the harried working world
for quaint farm life is a myth.
‘It’s a high-stress, high-drama,
Jamie DeMent ’01