The Barking Coyote is now yipping in downtown Elkin after a local family-owned farm in Ronda decided to expand its business and open up a small shop and bakery at 202 West Main Street.
Owned by Rich Wooldredge and Jody Hartle, the Barking Coyote is a family-owned and environmentally-friendly market farm in the foothills of North Carolina located near Ronda. They have had the farm since 1997 to raise cattle and dig hay as well as grow a large variety of produce over 72 acres. In 2008, they began bringing their products to the local farmers market.
“We’ve been doing the farmers market for eight years,” said Wooldredge. “We started doing the farmers markets because we had a farm and wanted our children, who were young at the time, to have the experience of growing and visiting downtown, bringing the market with them, and dealing with people.
“We had always been looking into opening a farm store and bakery so when this building became available, it was perfect. It’s the right size, it’s the right location, it allows us to take what we produce on the farm and sell it here. We have a level two commercial kitchen off of North Bridge Street for making food.”
The farm grows fruits, berries, and heirloom vegetables along with producing an assortment of baked and canned goods. The orchard is expansive, including 110 fruit and nut trees including apple, peach,pear, cherry, plum, fig, pecan, and black and English walnut. The Barking Coyote also grows 15,000 plants of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries along with tomato plants, onions and peppers. Much of the produce also goes into the Barking Coyote’s deli products, such as the chicken salad, cucumbers, sweet pickles and pimentos.
One hundred and fifty free range chickens are raised on the farm for white, brown, green chocolate, and blue-layered eggs.
Ten honey hives on the farm produce honey that is also used in granola and dried fruit.
The Barking Coyote is known for growing food in an ecologically and ethically responsible manner, adhering to agricultural and food production practices that do not harm the environment and also support and sustain local communities. All items are fresh and free of pesticides.
The family works together to run the store and the farmers market. While Wooldredge is the face of the store, his wife Jody Hartle has a creative hobby for making yummy goods including cakes, cookies, scones, breads, muffins, pies, jams, relishes, spreads, salads, syrups, chutneys, salsas and canned items.
“The children are grown up so they’re starting to do more teenage things, but they also help out at the store and the farmers market,” said Wooldredge.
Wooldredge originally moved to North Carolina from Washington, D.C., in 1981 to work for the police department in Winston-Salem. Later he met Hartle at Surry Community College. Hartle’s family had moved to the area from Winston-Salem when she was 10 and bought a farm in Wilkes County.
Although the store has only been open for about two weeks, the community support has been outstanding for the family.
“The community and Hugh Chatham has just been awesome,” said Wooldredge. “We’ve had just a great ton of people and support at the farmers market and now we get to meet a lot of people that work down here. They come in and get coffee and scones, muffins and cookies to get started on their day. We also do a light fare for lunch.”
One curious tidbit about the store is the fact that it was almost called The Blue Heron.
“We have for the long time and still have blue heron flying up and down our major creek and so we really considered naming the store ‘The Blue Heron,’” said Wooldredge. “But there were several places that had that name and the name just didn’t grab us. Coyotes were introduced into this area 15 to 20 years ago, and we’ve had our fair share of them around here. The Howling Coyote sounded good to us, but they yip. And so that just caught our imagination.”
The couple’s main goal is to become part of the downtown community and find their own place within the businesses.
“We’re trying to be good renters,” said Wooldredge. “We’re trying to fit into downtown without competing with established businesses. Our goal is to find our own niche and fit into the downtown area. By getting up early, we will find our spot early in the morning within the community. There are a lot of people looking for this type of business. Bank employees, teachers, business owners, all of the shop owners are in here on a regular basis in the morning to pick up a cup of coffee and a snack to get them started on the day.”
According to Wooldredge, he and Hartle are living the dream by being part of the community.
“We’re doing what we want to do, just owning a small business,” said Wooldredge. “Jody will be able to retire in a couple years. This is what we’ve wanted to do for a long time. I love meeting people. Believe it or not, even though I’m more or less an introvert, I really enjoy being able to provide something that people like of quality and just being part of the community. D.C. wasn’t really a community. I never got to experience that small-town feeling and being part of Elkin and the community is just an awesome thing and it’s a great place to raise your children.”
The Barking Coyote may be reached at 336-972-0738 or at 336-466-6135, or by email at [email protected]
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258-4058.