Feed Fannin’s 2018 Ada Street Garden Off to a Great Start

Feed Fannin volunteers in the Ada Street garden, tilling and prepping tomatoes.

Spring has taken its time to arrive but is finally here. After a wet winter and temperatures near freezing at the latter part of April, May has arrived with dry, sunny days. There are exciting, yet challenging things that have been happening in the garden over the winter.

Okay, here’s some of the good news/bad news.

GOOD news—there is a wonderful new Ag facility being finished right behind our garden.

The BAD news is that the water line for the new facility started at Ada St and was buried right through the raised bed area and the middle of our garden. The BAD news is that we lost a lot of good soil when they dug the water line.

The GOOD news is that we got some new soil for the garden and have been able to start planting this year’s garden. More GOOD news is that the construction company is now working to smooth and dress up the rough areas and improve the driveway back to its original condition or better.

BAD news—the electric fence around the garden has not been effective over the past few years. Many of the posts were rotting, and ground hogs were able to enter the garden and devour our crops. Portions of the fence were taken down during construction and put back haphazardly. The GOOD news—we have replaced the old fence with a really good fence with fencing to the ground, gravel under the gates and electric fence wires at the top that should be able to keep groundhogs and deer out of the garden. Kudos to Cochran Fencing for the fantastic job of installing the fence for us. It was amazing having Tracy and Greg to work with us.

So now for some more continuing good news. The soil condition is looking really wonderful. Thank you to the small but faithful group of garden volunteers that have come to our first work days. All the tomato cages and trellis for pole beans have been installed. Several new garden volunteers were educated quickly and helped with planting.

We are so thankful to have wonderful community partners like Quinn’s Nursery and FFA Ag students to provide plant starts, to the Farmer’s Co-Op for providing seed and to Home Depot for help- ing with some soil to help replenish raised beds. I am forever amazed at the generosity and support Feed Fannin receives from our community. Thank you Fannin County Board of Education for your generosity in allowing us to use this property for our farm and being supportive of our efforts.

So far we have planted tomatoes, green beans, corn, peppers, cucumbers, red potatoes, cabbage and squash. We will be plant- ing approximately 1500 sweet potato slips in late May and hope- fully okra or another crop of corn a little later. Two new large raised bed have been donated and placed inside the new fenced area of the garden which will give us more planting options. We have added an adapter to the faucet at our vegetable cleaning table and have added a hose so we will be able to easily water the raised bed.

The rain last year challenged the drainage in the garden. We dug two new, improved and strategically placed drainage which, hopefully, will address our drainage issues.

We did some Spring cleaning in the barn and the shed. Shelves were made from scrap wood and placed in the lower barn bays to store supplies off the dirt floor. Stick-up LED battery lights have been added for better visibility.

We have planted marigold and cleome within the garden to encourage pollination and keep out unwanted insects. Other companion herbs will be planted to help discourage unwanted pests.

The Forge Mill garden is off to a great start with the addition of composted soil that Feed Fannin provided. They will plant red potatoes and sweet potatoes this year.

Taken all together, the garden is off to a great start, and I am encouraged by all that has happened. The first two weeks of May were very busy! Our preparations are good, and we’ve worked hard to address our problems. If the weather cooperates, our ditches drain properly, the fence keeps the groundhogs out, the beetles, corn smut and other pests stay away, our volunteers stay committed and on task our hard work should be rewarded, and we will fulfill our mission of providing fresh produce to our local food pantry to help feed the hungry in our community. Come see what’s happening at the barn! Join with us in praying for a bountiful crop in the garden this year. May it be true!

Submitted by Kathy Beck