Several years back we ran a series of articles written by our growers about the history of their farms. It was most helpful and very informative, and before Avalon Farms rejoined the Market after being away a few years. Recently Wendy shared the history of their farm in the Grower Notes section of our newsletter. We had already scheduled a visit coinciding with my monthly visit to Coffee County Jail. As luck would have it I got out of there a bit early which gave us more time to visit.
There was NO DOUBT I had arrived at a real sustainable farm when the gps told me I had arrived. After driving past miles and miles of traditionally farmed land seeing neatly sectioned beds in various stages of preparation (complete with a movable chicken fence and chickens) was a welcome sight.
From left to right: Sam, Maggie (who was born in a coyote den on the adjacent property), Zoe and Quiggles.
I have to admit being a bit jealous of the the relatively flat land where they are located. Different parts of the farm operation pretty much circled the home making the 100 ft. beds an easy walk in any direction, but possible to get something motorized close enough to assist if needed. Being out in the open with no close forest also meant their main predators came from the sky instead of the woods (like those of us who deal with possums, fox, coyotes, bobcats, etc). Different outbuildings on the backside of the house serve different functions including housing the aquaponics, a walk-in cooler and chicken station.
Lloyd and Wendy wasted no time showing me around and telling me about the various garden beds and what was going on there. The asparagus bed was happily overwintering under a layer of mulch so there wasn’t much to see there. The blackberries looked like . . well, blackberry plants in winter! The egg chickens had recently finished digging up grass and weeds in one area, fertilizing it well in the process, and had started on another. I saw the disked area Wendy wrote about in last week’s newsletter and agree that the space will give them a lot of breathing room in their soil preparation and crop rotations.
This bed featured in our Dec. 8 newsletter“wowed” me. The straight lines and perfect spacing appealed the my little bit of OCD because I’ve never managed to plant even a small bed that neat, let alone 100 ft! The other thing was the nice thick layer of peanut hulls mulching the area. Talk about utilizing sustainable local materials! Once the crop has been harvested the hulls will be tilled into the soil (making it that much richer) then the spot will be planted with a cover crop, then tilled again for additional benefit before hosting a different vegetables crop.
Wendy had shared her planting grid back then with us. It is one of several with varying size grids for even spacing. This like many things on the farm are build from available and recycled materials.
Hate to stop now that I’ve got you good and interested, but don’t despair – more good info to come in Part 2 next week.
THIS WEEK’S GROWER NOTES
We have the best Growers in the Wiregrass! Please learn more about them on our Grower Page.
MARTIN TEAS: Martin Teas on vacation February 1,2019 through February 12, 2019. No online orders February 5th. You may order again on February 12th. Thanks Birdie
AVALON FARMS: Taking advantage of these cold days to get my seed orders done. Then I have to work out the when, where and how of planting them. How many succession plantings? Row feet needed? Seeds per row? Direct seed or transplants? It’s sort of like a puzzle or playing tetris.
I’ve also started a bunch of cool weather transplants; kales, cabbages, broccoli, tatsoi, senposai and spinach. The fall spinach was a dismal failure, hoping these do better.
In the warmer afternoons I’ve been working on incorporating my “cover crop” of winter weeds. LOL It’s actually a thing, really. Kill them before they make seed and till them in as green manure. They’ve been using the soil’s nutrients to grow and I don’t want to lose those nutrients by throwing them out, so back into the soil they go.
There will be some kale available this week. At this writing I’m not sure how much.
EGGS….in an effort to “share the love” I’m going to stop offering 18 count eggs and add more dozens. This will allow more people the opportunity to get some farm fresh eggs. Thank you for your understanding. Hopefully everyone’s egg production will be up soon. Go, Chickens! Go!
HORTONS FARM: Today I’m at the 24th Annual Alabama Cooperative Extension System Beekeeping Symposium in Clanton. This is one of two annual statewide educational events for both new and experienced beekeepers. I must say I’m thankful to be attending as a participant and not a teacher this year!
20th Annual Symposium in 2015.
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