OPERATION & HISTORY
we bought our farm, we wanted to break from what we knew as "traditional"
farming and wanted to find methods which would allow us to grow
more food in smaller spaces. We wanted to grow unique market items
but also be able to bring to market foods that grow in the wild
in this unique area of Appalachia. It took research and practice
and many years later we have landed on a hybrid-of-sorts description
of what we are trying to do.
NUTSHELL: We are a biodynamic farm that utilizes permaculture
techniques and forest stewardship council practices.
farming methods all work
off the concept that a farm is a site-specific ecosystem.
Biodynamic farming is a holistic system that places importance
on all of a farm's elements: soil, water, plants & animals.
These methods rely heavily on soil building, water conservation,
composting, animal production and animal by-products. Not
all growers using biodynamic techniques adhere to the complete
biodynamics program. You can be certified, but you do not
need to be certified to be considered a biodynamic farm.
techniques include a design
system that creates a sustainable food production environment.
This environment begins with soil building, uses specific
site design with a focus of more perennial plants less annuals,
utilizes high density growing, companion planting and compost
production. These techniques encourage growing more food
in less space.
Stewardship Council Practices (FSC)
Encourages the efficient use of the forest’s multiple
products; Conserves biological diversity and its associated
water resources, soils, and unique, fragile ecosystems and
landscapes; Monitors the condition of the forest & maintains
the health of the forest.
further on this page to learn about the history of our
you can jump to our farm
practices, how we use the land
and water, how
we keep our crops protected
from local "critters" on our "About Us" page
took almost a year to find the perfect place to farm...to check-out....
a mile off the road...
relocated, restored late 1700's Adams county cabin on 10 heavily
wooded acres in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, in
Adams County, Southeast Ohio.
hole outhouse. No running water. No electricity.
The homestead consists of several relocated and
restored late 1700’s log cabins. The main house consists
of 2 cabins attached together with a large native stone fireplace
with a working iron cookarm. The barn has a brick 1st floor and
a massive hand hewn log staircase leading to the large wooden
loft. As no homestead would be complete without plumbing, we have
an antique hand crank water pump and a 2 hole outhouse. Rounding
out the homestead is a woodshed made from split red cedar logs
from the farm.
pioneer; there is no electricity and no running water. We have
had to rely on imagination, creativity and a pond for a lot of
what we are doing! Spending weekends in the winter have been a
challenge, though there is an awesome fireplace, we have come
to understand and appreciate the struggles of Ohio pioneers in
clearing a field for red raspberry production. We determined
we needed 1 acre of our 10 acres for raspberry production.
We accomplished this by removing a band of invasive red
cedars on the hill side. The field is terraced and uphill
from the pond. We also cleared several areas for herb production.
the fields were cleared we installed red raspberry canes
and relocated many of the herb plants I had growing in the
city and introduced many more plants. Beacause of the abundance
of shagbark hickories present, we named the farm Shagbark
addition to the farm operation, we corrected the flow of
the stream which runs through our acerage and returned it
to the original water path. We also did additional grading
around the cabins to improve water drainage.
We increased heating in the main cabin
and decreased the ability for cold air and animals to enter
the cabin. We also replaced a leaky roof on the front porch.
increased the number of herb gardens.
Because of the drought in 2011 and the planned
increases in our crop production, we enlarged our existing pond.
We also improved our water pumping system for crop irrigation.
also removed a poor performing raspberry variety in order to add
2 additional varieties to extend our raspberry season. We are
also installing bird netting structures to support netting to
protect all of the berries from bird theft and damage.
removed our row of lavender and chamomile in the berry field in
order to install blackberries. The lavender was moved to several
gardens near the cabins and pond. The chamomile continues to thrive
as a ground cover in the berry field.
We finally added the bird netting to the raspberry field. It was
a huge project and it was successful. We also added some additional
drainage in the raspberry field. We added 2 new varieties of raspberry
and some beautiful blackberry plants as well - both for harvesting
installed the orchard which includes apple, pear and plum trees
and also blueberries.
if the raspberries weren't enough for the bees, we installed a
butterfly garden which has mostly edible flowers, and an added
plus, the bees love the garden too! We began experimenting with
vertical growing and learned some lessons there. We had the largest
raspberry harvest to date, in spite of the fact we had only 3
of the terraces producing! We increased our production of hot
peppers and began making a hot pepper sauce. We also discovered
wild ginger and began stewardship of the area with the hope to
bring fresh harvests in the future.
We added a new structure to house all of the herbs we produce.
We call it the "herb shack". We began producing
hickory smoked salt to add to our lineup of hickory products.
The winter months were pretty harsh and many farmers lost
lavender plants, ours survived as did the raspberry and
blackberry plants. Our rhubarb crop was pretty phenomenal
in the Spring.
blackberries we installed produced beautifully. We took
blackberries to market a couple of weeks. We look forward
to 2015 harvest as the variety we chose was awesome and
will be even better as the plants mature!
mushrooms were slim this year, in spite of the harsh wet
winter, the Summer months were dry and did not yield the
mushrooms we usually can collect. However. Autumn produced
some pretty amazing Maitake. 30 pounds to be precise!
We had a lot of Spring rain and it was the year where we
twice almost lost the pond. We found out what a crawdad
collar was and installed one of those at the drain pipe.
(If you want to know what crawdad collar is, just ask. We
didn't know either.) Our rhubarb crop was again pretty phenomenal
in the Spring and we were able to begin offering rhubarb
harvest was good but thin, Spring rains caused most of the
fruit to mold. However our blackberry harvest was great.
We also started growing and offering melons. Ever since
I tried charentais melons in France I have been interested
in growing good melons here. You just can't get a good melon
around here anymore, so we started growing them. Adams County
seems to have a great climate for melons. Who knew? Wild
mushrooms were also pretty plentiful - all varieties we
We moved to the farm house in January! Strange time of year
to move, but when you're a farmer, winter is the best time
to do "big" things - that you have control over!
The farm house isn't exactly as we want it, but what house
isn't an ongoing project?
raspberry harvest was good as were the blackberries. We're
still having problems with the birds getting through the
netting. Last year they hadn't quite figured out how to
defeat what we we did, but we're guessing the winter physics
classes they all took paid off, we again had significant
bird damage, so it's back to the drawing board for 2017!
melon crop was phenomenal, we are so happy with the heirloom
varieties we chose! We look forward to even better melons
mushroom harvest was good and with everything we've learned
about mushrooms, we're looking forward to cultivating mushrooms
in 2017. An exciting and new endeavor! Pawpaws were also
strong this year in spite of an early frost that damaged
many of the blossoms. This was also the first year our pear
trees really produced, but the squirrels got most of the
fruit before they matured. Plans are in place to remedy
this issue for 2017!
of the lessons learned on the farm are hard ones, but farmers
are the eternal optimists - there's always next year!
We have a new face at Shagbark Farm. Someone dumped an older
kitten who managed to find his way to us. He was pretty
beat up when he arrived, weighing in at just 9 pounds as
what we guess to be a 18 month old cat. We got him to the
vet and he survived and is living as another one of our
farm cats. Sweet guy, we're glad he's here!
was not good for the raspberries, so we didn't get to test
our bird netting as we would have liked. The strawberry
plants produced enough for us to produce some pretty spectacular
jam and as always our blackberries did great. Melon season
was strong and we took many melons to markets. With what
we are learning about melon growing, we plan to increase
our specialty varieties in 2018.
bees are thriving. We were able to take a small quantity
of honey to market which was pretty exciting for us. The
bees really are extraordinary critters. With what we learned
this year, we plan to increase the number of hives we have
in 2018 in order to increase honey production.
"wild" crops also did well this year - Pawpaws
once again were plentiful as were the wild mushrooms we
harvest, in particular chanterelles. It was the first time
persimmons were early enough to take to markets, they were
2018 was a very wet year. Because of that in 2019 we'll
need to rennovate the entire raspberry field. Raspberries
don't like to be wet and the last two very rainy seasons
has weakened our plants. As the raspberries are 10 years
old, we'll most likely be replacing many of our plants.
Our strawberry harvest was very good and we took many berries
to market. Even thought it was a very wet summer, we took
melons to market, not as many as we would have liked but
there's always next year!
wet season made mushrooming quite successful, we took many
pounds of mushrooms to market.
bees continue to thrive and we again took honey to market.
We split our hives and now have twice as many. We're hoping
for a great 2019!
further to learn about our farm
practices, how we use the land