Judy Carpenter’s love of the land combined with her love of shooting has produced the ultimate dream: Lucky Clays, one of the largest sustainable farms in the state.
Judy Carpenter’s father started National Welders Supply Company out of the trunk of his car during World War II. Her diapers were changed on boxes of welding rods, and she grew up around welding. Following in her father’s footsteps, Carpenter worked her way through the ranks learning every aspect of the business until she finally became Chairman of the Board. Searching for her dream, she sold her company in 2006 and started Lucky Clays Farm, a privately owned farm that strives towards sustainable living while also providing a Conference Center where corporate meetings and retreats are held, and activities are centered on shooting trap, sporting clays, fishing, hiking, and enjoying the great outdoors.
Carpenter’s love of shooting didn’t start until she was 27 years old. “Someone left a box of shotgun shells in my car,” says Carpenter. “I took them to the office to a co-worker who shot trap and skeet and told him to take them. Instead, he said, ‘you should try shooting them yourself.’ So, I did.”
The co-worker took Carpenter to the Charlotte Gun Club where she tried shooting some hand thrown targets – she hit about half – a good number for a first attempt. “I was hooked,” says Carpenter. “The next week I went to Hyatt’s Gun Shop and purchased a 12 Gauge Remington 870 Pump with a 30” barrel and a full choke for shooting trap.” Over time, Carpenter became an award-winning trap and field shooting expert and Olympic level clay shooter, but her love of the land combined with her love of shooting produced the ultimate dream: one of the largest sustainable farms in the state.
Lucky Clays Farm is located in Norwood, NC and is about 472 acres. The farm is run by a staff of people who work and love the land. Renewable designs help with conservation and sustainability. “It’s important to take a holistic approach where all things work together and have a tradeoff with other parts.” The low impact design conserves nature and sustains itself. The solar array and wind turbine system produce nearly 60% of the farm’s annual electricity. “Once the batteries get topped off, the rest of the power is sold back to the power company,” says Carpenter. “The rain water that comes off the roof and the immediate parking area at the cabin is diverted to an 8,000 gallon cistern where it is then used to irrigate the plants and grass.”
Other sustainable initiatives are routinely practiced. “For example the main cabin was built following the LEED process for homes. We have qualified for gold status, but are waiting for our paperwork to be reviewed by the Green Building council,” says Carpenter. The cabin’s floors are made from recycled river wood retrieved from the Cape Fear River while the old barn wood used is all repurposed.
The farm already features solar panels, a wind turbine, and an aquaponic system that is thriving, and is currently looking to add solar panels to two more buildings in the near future. Their aquaponics system is very interesting, allowing an aquaculture for raising aquatic animals, as well as a hydroponic bed for growing vegetation. “We raise fresh water shrimp, and grow a variety of vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. We’re very excited to have just received a grant allowing us to raise tilapia, a non-native fish to North Carolina,” says Carpenter.
Corporate meetings and retreats will be the main function of Lucky Clays Farm. The event coordinator will work with the company to develop a program that best suits their team-building needs. “We have done retreats with a few small to medium groups and these have been fantastic” says Carpenter. “We can handle larger groups, but there are some limits to the number of people that we can have at the farm.”
When it comes to shooting, Carpenter is adamant. Trap and sporting clay are the only shooting programs allowed on the farm. Hunting is not permitted. There are many things to enjoy besides shooting–two stocked ponds with bass, catfish, brim, and other fish, 347 acres of trails to hike and mountain bike, and pet-friendly cottages with large porches and beautiful views to enjoy. It truly is a nature and shooting paradise.
For further information on Lucky Clays Farm go to www.luckyclaysfarm.com.