Gardening For Our Family, Community, and Our Sanity

We have been growing food for a lot of years now. We garden to feed our family with nutritious foods, create healthy natural ecosystems, build healthy soil, and build community in our surrounding areas. Each year we strive to take another step further away from the unhealthy foods found at the local grocery stores. We grow organically without using pesticides or herbicides by choice.

For many years, we have focused on creating and maintaining a “Closed Loop System”, in our farming and in our household. Where every single material in the system is recycled continuously. On our homestead, we will harvest rainwater using various techniques, make our own compost, work in harmony with our land, and work with our animals to lessen portions of our labor. When we discuss gardening, farming, and homesteading, we do not focus on just growing fruits and vegetables, but rather on the whole system working in symbiotic harmony.

Many of our “systems” and techniques are derived from permaculture. Bill Mollison defined “permaculture” as, “The conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of the landscape with people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material
and non-material needs in a sustainable way.” Now, what is there not to like about that? Permaculture not only makes perfect logical and efficient sense out of various systems, but when you create these systems and experience them thriving with little effort, the feeling and flow of it is simply amazing. This has become a lifestyle for our family and the feeling that comes with it is amazing.

This will be our first year growing food, farming, and homesteading at our new location in zone 7a. We are faced with a new climate, pests, plant hardiness zone, and a completely different type of soil than what we had adapted to at our previous property. Homesteading and gardening has taught us so many valuable life lessons and skills over the years. Patience, proper observation of the land before touching a single shovel, and most of all adaptation. Adaptation in gardening is not only invaluable, but can be sustainable as well. A perfect example is the “dirt” we have to work with on our new property. It is very far from being “soil”. In simple terms, IT IS HORRIBLE! But that will not stop us from growing food for our family. This is where adaptation comes in for us.

This year with the rise of lumber prices, we steered away from building raised beds and adapted to the situation by sheet mulching large areas. We used resources we have on site. For example, straw saturated in duck poop as a base to not only fertilize the garden beds, but to help build them up as well. By sheet mulching, we are not only saving money, but we are taking the first steps in building healthy living soil.

Shortly after moving here, we learned about a local class called “Build It Up”. We decided to sign up for the “Backyard Gardeners Program”. The class guides several families through a year of organic gardening education and support. It has been very informative and resourceful for us as we build our homestead at a new location. We look forward to growing food, farming, homesteading, and making strong connections with like minded individuals here in North East Tennessee.

Until next time,
Jason & Krystal