We have discovered many things after removing all the johnson grass from our water logged fields. Japanese eggplant, basil, tomatoes, beans zucchini and more! Come see us at market dowtown on saturday. It will be in the bank parking lot adjoining the 8th and Reynold's location due to a wedding.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Blue Clay creates pesticide-free, chemical-free farm in North Augusta subdivision
By Rob Pavey Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
NORTH AUGUSTA --- Brian Gandy gets rid of weeds the old-fashioned way.
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These organically grown tomatoes are from Blue Clay Farm. The farm is free of chemical weed killers and pesticides, Mr. Gandy said.
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"We pull them," he said, strolling between tomato vines at one of the area's most unusual gardens.
As manager of Blue Clay Farm at the Hammond's Ferry community, Mr. Gandy's mission is to develop one of the region's first organic farms.
Chemical weed killers, he said, are strictly off limits -- as are the array of pesticides used on conventional farms.
"We do use bag fertilizer, but it would come from chickens -- or dairy products," he said. "It has to be something that's not chemical-based."
The farm is a part of Hammond's Ferry's mission to blend a clean environment with a sustainable lifestyle, said project manager Turner Simkins.
The farming experiment occupies about two acres of previously unused land beneath power lines.
"You could call it an amenity," Mr. Simkins said. "But it's much more than a tennis court."
The absence of chemical pesticides makes the garden more comfortable for toads and ladybugs, which in turn consume some of the less friendly bugs, such as aphids and white flies.
"We also have a lot of dragonflies and damselflies," Mr. Gandy said. "To us, they are the cavalry -- the good guys."
On the other end of the scale, one of the least welcome visitors is the tomato horn worm -- a thumb-sized monster of a caterpillar that can defoliate entire tomato plants in a single day.
They must be removed by hand -- a task that Mr. Gandy and his girlfriend, Kate Lee, undertake almost daily, along with other chores.
Along the outer borders are "trap crops," such as sweet basil, that lure bad bugs away from vegetable plants.
Rows of globe amaranth and other flowering annuals round out the equation by providing colorful blooms for cuttings, and for luring insects needed to pollinate the vegetables.
Part of the organic approach is to build soil quality through crop rotation, composting and the use of cover crops that later can be plowed back into the dirt as soil conditioner.
"You're basically growing your own fertilizer," he said.
The farm was designed to become a commercial venture that will supply local markets and restaurants with organically grown produce, Mr. Gandy said, noting that its customers already include local restaurants and visitors to Augusta's Saturday Market.
Though the concept of organic farming is a lesson in simplicity, the process of becoming certified through the National Organic Program to market organically grown produce is complex.
The criteria include inspections, detailed record keeping and other details, including a stipulation that at least three years have elapsed since any chemical pesticide or herbicide applications were made to the soil, Mr. Simkins said.
In the meantime, as Blue Clay Farm evolves and moves toward certification, it will also be enjoyed by residents, who can learn from its organic processes and enjoy the produce grown in their own back yard.
"People get a benefit, a peace of mind, knowing there are no synthetic pesticides in what they're eating," Mr. Simkins said.
"It's also something local. Knowing where your produce is coming from is almost as important as being organic."
Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119, or firstname.lastname@example.org.