Another Year of Hard Work at the Ada Street Garden

Summer has come to an end, and we have harvested most of our produce. It’s time to put the garden to bed for the winter. Recently we harvested 3,025 pounds of sweet potatoes. That brings our year-to-date total for produce delivered to the food pantry to 6,525 pounds.

Planning and preparation are sometimes underrated, but to me, they are two very necessary tools. My family would probably tell you my use of these tools is a curse to live with at times…but also that it can be invaluable.

Crop rotation, soil testing, soil amending, and garden layout involve time and planning, but are necessary to the success of the garden. The planning that went into putting a new fence up in the spring helped us combat the groundhogs that plagued our sweet potatoes last year.

We lost good soil in areas of the Ada Street Garden during the construction of a water line. Rich soil had to be added at Ada Street as well as the Forge Mill Garden to improve the nutrients. Adding soil and soil amendments to both gardens has helped increase the yields.

Kudos to those who tend the Forge Mill Garden for growing almost 500 pounds of red potatoes (their largest harvest) and to the Ada Street garden for producing 814 ears of corn, along with other produce.

As always, thanks to the core group of garden volunteers who have faithfully shown up to harvest and maintain the garden and facility this summer, both at Ada Street and the Forge Mill Garden.

Garden activities are still underway as we prepare to put the garden to rest for the winter. Spent plant areas have been tilled, and we plan to test and amend the soil accordingly.

Here’s another example of our planning ahead: Last fall, the City of Blue Ridge deposited leaves at the farm that workers had collected from around town. The leaves have been decomposing over the past year, and we will add them to the soil before we plant winter rye, a process that helps maintain and add nutrients to the soil for the winter. The extra work and planning will also benefit the gardens next spring.

Ada Street Garden

We will plan next year’s garden layout using crop rotation for the best results. Also, we are planning on adding a few additional raised beds inside the fenced area. The frost-free spigot that was planned earlier in the year was installed in July and has been used recently to water cabbage in the 10 allotment garden beds where Feed Fannin now has cabbage planted.

The gravel on the entrance drive that was lost during construction was recently replaced.

The local firemen have kept our water tank filled for the community raised beds.

The garden crew has been preparing the barn for sweet potato storage after harvest by cleaning up inside and repairing the barn door to keep critters out of the potatoes while they are curing before being taken to the food pantry. We are also cleaning up storage sheds on property, preparing for storage of equipment during winter. After all harvesting is complete and final mowing has been done, we will prepare our equipment for winter by cleaning it and emptying gas tanks so that equipment will run better next spring.

Feed Fannin received an anonymous donation for farm equipment that has allowed us to purchase some rechargeable battery-operated equipment that will help us better maintain the garden as well as the rest of the property we lease. We have also been trimming around buildings and the entrance to keep the farm looking beautiful and preparing areas that need more sunlight.

More cleanup work and preparation will be done during the winter months.

It has been a busy summer at the farm with some noteworthy accomplishments for the garden and our facility. I am very thankful and appreciative to the Feed Fannin garden volunteers for their hard work, support, cooperation and their heart for helping our farm be successful as well as beautiful.

A very special word of appreciation to our community friends and partners who have helped us solve some operational issues at the farm this summer: the Fannin County Board of Education Maintenance Department,Young Farmers, Future Farmers of America, the City of Blue Ridge Maintenance Department, and the Fannin County Fire Department. Thank you for helping us to make our plans a reality!

Submitted by Kathy Beck