DURHAM, N.C. — Hidden amongst the sea of green on the outskirts of Durham is a farm that many people would never know is there.

What You Need To Know

  •  The farm used to be part of the Snow Hill Plantation

  •  Two sisters have formed the land into a community garden for residents

  •  Delphine Sellars and Lucille Patterson hope to own the land outright later this year

“I grew up on a vegetable farm in eastern North Carolina in a town called Washington, as they say little Washington, the original Washington," Delphine Sellars said. "It was a vegetable farm, and we grew everything.”

Sellars says she did everything in her power to get out of that small town and away from farming. 

“I made good grades in school, because it was my way out, because I knew I could leave this farm and not have to go back, but now I love it," Sellars said.

She says sometimes life works in circles and brings you back to your roots, quite literally. 

Life brought her sister along as well.

Sellars and her sister Lucille Patterson have taken their childhood filled with farming and brought it to the Catawba Trail Farm

They’ve created a community garden, giving others the power over food insecurity. 

“Knowledge is power, so as we share the knowledge with the individuals that come out here, it’s just enlightening to see them grasp this information and run with it," Patterson said. 

This hub of growth and greenery was once an afterthought.

Sellars and Patterson negotiated with the Triangle Land Conservancy in 2017 for access to the land. 

A year later their access was finally granted, but what they inherited was a challenge.

“We started in 2018, nobody had done anything to this property in 70 years," Sellars said.

Overgrown and completely forgotten, the sisters went to work clearing away waste, high grass and restoring the history. 

The makeover was no easy task. 

But it was through cultivating and rebuilding this farm, that the sisters really saw its true history. 

"This is the oldest marked grave site in Durham County. It’s that of William Johnston, his wife and five of his children," Sellars said pointing at a grave on the property.

The sisters soon learned that Johnston opened the first plantation in the history of Orange County, known as Snow Hill Plantation.

Catawba Trail Farm sits on the land that this plantation once covered.

These flags, as indicated by researchers, represent possible grave sites of enslaved individuals. 

“I often say when I walk on the property my ancestors are proud," Sellars said. "It now says that we are on this property not because we have to be, but because we want to be.”

And just like Sellars and Patterson, the farm continues to grow as well. The sisters have expanded their abilities, even entering the field of bee-keeping.

“I used to be afraid of bees, been stung by bees," Patterson said. "So it’s like stay away. But now I realize they’re part of nature, part of that cycle.”

They want to be able to help feed and sustain their community, learning whatever skills they need to do so

“Just being able to share the knowledge that we have helps all of us, because there are some areas that are food deserts," Patterson said. "So the goal is to teach.”

While Sellars and Patterson have had access to the land since 2018, they are looking to own the land outright.

They have been in talks with the Triangle Land Conservancy, and they say if everything goes right, they should have ownership by August.