Meet Alyssa Campo

Alyssa Campo

One Oak Farm at The Umstead Hotel and Spa

An introduction: Imagine everything you might do for an at-home vegetable garden (and small orchard), then multiply that by almost three acres. As the Culinary Farm Manager, I work with a great team to plan, plant and maintain over 150 varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers — all utilized by Herons restaurant, the spa and the hotel gift shop. We work throughout the year in all types of weather, keeping nature and sustainability in mind, as we do everything from saving seeds to pulling weeds.

Inspiration: The beauty and forces of nature inspire me every day. From experiencing daily sunrises to feeling the weather inch into new seasons (especially our hot North Carolina summers), I feel more in tune with what is going on around me.

Slowing down a little bit and getting in touch with nature on a different level has absolutely changed my gardening and farming methods. In the past, I used organic pesticides, but now I understand and watch closely as beneficial insects arrive to prey upon our pests and solve those issues the natural way. I may have also over-applied fertilizers, but now I am in tune with building and enriching the soil and attracting earthworms and microbes to create a healthier ecosystem that in turn feeds the plants.

In short, nature has already answered many problems we face as producers, and it’s just learning to recognize how we can help.

Professional highlight: One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had was doubling One Oak Farm’s production and profits in just a few years while also improving the environment and reducing our carbon footprint.

Biggest risk: Moving to Michigan away from friends and family to follow a job opportunity as a wholesale account manager for a national garden supplier. It was totally worth it, and it was an invaluable opportunity. I not only got to learn more about the garden industry, but also about myself.

Core values: My core values hinge upon sustainability, food security and bringing people together over the enjoyment of food and nature. I get to do all of this every day.

Greatest challenge: Continuing to grow and push the boundaries of new foods and flavors at Herons and the hotel. We still have a lot of room to grow, literally and figuratively.

Fun fact: I am a hot pepper fiend and make my own, very spicy, pepper jellies. I also love dinosaurs (especially Utahraptors).

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