One of the offers I have is at a farm in Nashville. A hundred years ago this land grew a large garden and supplied vegetables to hotels downtown. We would like to recreate gardens here, raising food and public awareness about biodynamic gardening.
The methods I use are a hundred years old, so that part is easy. A barn there can be cleaned out, and compost made along with leaves from nearby woodland. Rock dusts of granite, limes, and phosphate can supplement the mineral requirements, and the sod gently turned over.
Even in Nashville we will have to erect an eight-foot tall fence to keep the deer out. We can’t shoot them because they belong to the state, and they are allowed free access to all of Tennessee land. Only by fencing can we grow gardens. Only by fencing can we grow gardens, without deer grazing them.
A front-end loader and posthole auger will make these jobs a lot easier. Compost piles would be the first step; it is extremely important to get the biology correct, and this happens in a well-made compost heap. If we find well-rotted manure, it can be spread in the fall before we turn the ground. By leaving the land rough plowed, the winters freezing and thawing will help pulverize it and alleviate the compaction.
We will need posts and wire and the labor to build a fence. Climbing crops like beans and grounds can utilize the fence, which will add to the beauty of the garden. Flowers grown along the pathways are a nice touch, too.
By next spring I’d like to see a small cultivating tractor on the property. Well lay off rows with it and plant the spring crops in April. By May the garden will be full, and by June the produce will be flowing. Some of the garden can be put into cover crops to further improve the soil.
An old brick green house on the property could be fixed up to start tomato and pepper plants. Interesting plantings around the old house might reveal unusual varieties. Horticulture peaked around the time their land was in full production, so there is no telling what we’ll find.
All of this will require labor. On my last job I put in 175 hours, but that was only to get the ball rolling. We’ll need a full time garden manager there, to help organize volunteers, keep the weeds at bay and the produce picked, and to show the garden to the public. We were very fortunate for the young help that showed up at the Bells Bend garden; we could not have pulled it off otherwise.
I’d love to grow some of the heirloom varieties that were grown here last century, and use many of those old methods. The benefit of turning an abandoned form into producing biodynamic garden is enormous, we need to use the land entrusted to us.