CARY — If someone had asked former Cary mayor Glen Lang 10 years ago what he would be doing in 2014, his answer probably wouldnt have had anything to do with protecting baby chickens from hawks or growing hydroponic lettuce by the side of Holly Springs Road.
Lang and Jim Loy bought about 1 acre of land and opened LL Urban Farms nearly two years ago. Now they spend their days selling fresh produce and meat to people who stop by their roadside stand between Cary and Apex.
The farm is a second career for both men, who live in Cary. Loy, 58, used to work as the general manager of a storage and moving company in Raleigh.
Lang, 57, was chief executive officer of Capitol Broadband and served as Carys mayor from 1999 to 2003.
As mayor during a high-growth time for Cary, Lang pushed for slower development. Some of his policy decisions were met with resistance, especially as he advocated for development fees.
But Lang has put politics behind him. For him, running a farm is a way to relax during retirement.
Neither Lang nor Loy had even grown a flower before opening LL Urban Farms. They mostly learned what they needed to know from the Internet.
Were YouTube farmers, Loy said.
Lang and Loy watched clips about how to grow crops and build greenhouses.
When youre a small business, you have to be resourceful, Lang said.
The mens friendship bloomed about 12 years ago, when their children met while attending Athens Drive High School. Now Lang and Loy are more than business partners theyre in-laws.
Loys daughter, Taylor, married Langs son, Dustin, last October.
It was a match made in a gardeners heaven.
All about lettuce
Armed with newfound knowledge about farming, Lang and Loy set up the stand to offer fresh fruit and vegetables for people in western Wake County who dont want to drive to the State Farmers Market in Raleigh. Much of the selection at LL Urban Farms comes from vendors at the market.
We try to keep everything as local as possible, Loy said. We believe in supporting local farmers.
Cindy Huntley of Raleigh said she likes the convenience of having the farm close by. With two small children, its hard for her to go to the State Farmers Market.
This place is just way more convenient, Huntley said. I like knowing that they have set hours, and its less crowded, so its easier to keep an eye on my kids.
The business sells everything from local honey, fresh fruit, meat, vegetables, spices, sauces and even fresh seafood from Topsail. It has sold pumpkins and Christmas trees during the holiday seasons.
A chicken coop sits behind the stand, and hens peck the ground. A rooster struts around the yard, the only non-producer of the fresh eggs sold at LL Urban Farms.
Hydroponic lettuce is the specialty, something unique for a farm of its size. The lettuce is grown in green houses, but instead of using dirt, the leafy greens are grown with just water. Pesticides and herbicides are out of the question.
It takes less time to grow hydroponic lettuce, according to the owners, and they sell it to local Whole Foods stores.
Its a convenient old-man system, Lang said with a laugh. The lettuce is high up off the ground, and we dont get any weeds.
Wanbaugh: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @TaylorWanbaugh