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About City Homestead Market Gardening

This section of the City Homestead site is an open source documentation of how we manage our market gardens.  We currently have two market garden properties; and products from each of these properties will be combined for subscribers, in order to create a variety of products for our subscribers.  To learn about our subscriptions, please visit Our Little Homestead, which is our commercial brand.

OUR MISSION

Affordable nutrition.

We are proposing that our weekly subscription will be $30 per week, and includes fruits and vegetables.   See the products below for the kinds of fruits that will be in the subscriptions.

NO RISK

Members do not have to pay in advance for the whole season.  We are a new market garden and assume the risks on our own.  When we get known in the area, and our gardens are fine tuned, we can offer a discount for members who pay for the whole season.

For 2018, we will offer a week by week payment system.

FREQUENCY & CHOICES

Subscribers do not have to receive their produce all at once.  We offer flexible schedules, from Monday through Thursday.  If our subscribers would rather have produce available more than once per week, we allow 2 to 3 days.

For instance, if the weekly subscription has 15 items being harvested, then members can pick up 5 items 3 times per week.  This is a great CSA model for people who are overwhelmed with getting produce all at once, or would rather not have to process a lot of produce each week into freezing, canning or other preservation.

Herbs are complimentary.  Members can get fresh cut herbs Mon-Thur.

Members select whichever fruits and vegetables they like, just like how you would shop at a store.  Don’t like something?  Leave it behind!  If we are growing 20 crops and 20 crops are ready for harvesting, you will have 20 crops to choose from.   Take all 20 if you like everything.  Some weeks will have more to choose from, some less, depending on what is in season.

How it works:   Members will receive a master list of all the crops we are growing, and the portion size that is available per crop, per share.    Not all produce can work like this.  For instance, a crop may  have to be harvested all at once and members will only have one chance to select the produce if they want any from that harvest.  For the most part, crops like chard, salad greens, radishes, bunched onions, tomatoes and other types of crops that grow quickly can be picked up Mon-Fri, in order to have the freshest harvest possible.

OUR STANDARDS

In addition to following the laws, ordinances and common sense practices of business, gardening and public relations, we have created some of our own standards for our properties.

NATURAL

  • We are creating small ecosystems that attract local wildlife.
  • Heirloom seeds.
  • Tennessee native plants.
  • Ponds that are safe for the critters.
  • No chemicals, at all.  Just good, clean food.
  • Nutrients that plants need come from amendments that are natural.

MANICURED PERMACULUTURE

We are striving for the benefits of a permaculture set up, but we want a manicured look.

Our method of setting up gardens in the initial stage is rather shocking to a lot of people, including city officials.   However, it gets better!  I promise.  While others are watering and mowing their lawns, we are creating a foundation that only has to be created once, then maintained yearly, not weekly.

It involves laying down a base foundation first.  This is an unsightly scene, and we understand why it bothers people.  Seemingly normal people are having truckloads after truckloads of wood chips dumped on their pristine green lawns.

Yes, we are doing that.  Lots of wood chips, but consider this.  Those green lawns on our properties are a waste of time, money and valuable space if we leave them green.   Our yard flooded during every storm and it turned into a mess.  In addition to our own run off, we were getting the neighbor’s storm water flooding us.  That is, until we added a thick layer of wood chips.  Now we have created a biodiversity we weren’t expecting!

  • The flooding stopped.
  • Wildlife showed up. (worms, lizards, frogs, bugs, beautiful birds, life inside the chips, mycelium and more)
  • We hardly have to water our plants, if at all.
  • The soil is very rich.
  • The soil does not compact.

On top of the wood chips, which is our next step for the Clinton property, we will build up approximately 6″ of rich topsoil.

Next, we plant beautiful gardens.

When the plants are established, we cover the soil with more wood chips.

So, what about manicured?

Have you ever seen a permaculture garden?  They’re messy, but we get it, nature is not exactly manicured but if works for people and that’s their gardening preference, we respect that.  The wild look is not what we are going for on our city lots.  We want:

  • Manicured, beautiful perennial and annual gardens.
  • A park-like setting.
  • Curb appeal.
  • Defined gardens that are cultivated.
  • Theater. (focal points (like water features), lighting, “drama” so to speak)
  • Tennessee native plants.
  • Cottage theme.

PROPERTIES

OUR LITTLE HOMESTEAD (Clinton, TN)

This property is the commercial farm stand, scheduled to be open in Spring.  We are also setting up a domestic kitchen at this location, and will follow the Tennessee Cottage Food Law (Tenn. Code Ann. § 53-1-208). (Changes to this law can be viewed here. pdf file)

More Information:   Land Management Specs for OLH

Products from this property’s gardens include:

  • Flowers
  • Salad greens
  • Kale
  • Herbs
  • Cottage Foods

SECRET HAVEN (Knoxville, TN)

This property is where our fruit crops are growing, and we will also grow annual crops.  This property follows the Knoxville Urban Agriculture Initiative.   The details can be found in this pdf file.   Urban Agriculture Zoning Ordinance

More Information:   Land Management Specs for Secret Haven

Products produced from this property include:

  • Apples
  • Berries (Black raspberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries)
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Figs
  • Hazelnuts
  • Honey
  • Kiwi
  • Mushrooms
  • Nectarines
  • Passion Fruit
  • Pawpaw
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
  • Plums

What to expect:

  • Open source market garden plans (open to the public)
  • Regular community planning meetings
  • Incorporating zoning requirements for a city market garden
  • Incorporating naturally grown practices
  • Soil building
  • Crop notes