Produce & Gardens

Driven by the desire to carry on with the farming practices of our early Appalachian ancestors, our fields reflect the practices of “sustainable agriculture,” beginning with the nurturing of the soils in our fields. Composted materials from our kitchens and “that which comes from the stables” are added to the fields to nurture a new season’s crops. The many peoples that have worked the land before us took time and effort to care for the living soil. We give back to a system that continuously provides for us, just as they did. It’s this continuous cycle that we celebrate here on the farm, a cycle long understood by the many cultures that have relied on this land for sustenance.

In the gardens you’ll find flowers, herbs and vegetables all growing together. Our plantings mimic the diversity found in nature. No two rows ever look the same and many varieties are allowed to go to flower, providing food for our insect allies and pollinators. We manage pests in that garden by promoting habitats for their predators. Instead of spraying chemicals, we plant various flowers that attract our indigenous beneficial insects and let them do the work for us. We allow the natural systems at play to work for our benefit and theirs.

At the core of our sustainable agriculture practices are the seeds that we plant and save year- after-year. These are the seeds of our ancestors, some of which have been planted since the 1700s. We refer to these seeds as Heirloom, Heritage or Landrace varieties. Each one of these seeds has a story to tell. Learn more about these seeds from John Coykendall’s stories on Friends of the Farm!

When a guest views the chef’s creations on their plate, they are looking at far more than a beet, butterbean, carrot or pea. They are looking at living history—an unbroken chain of genetic diversity handed down to us by our ancestors.

Just as the settlers of this rich and diverse land used whatever resources were available, most of the flowers and foliage we use have come directly from the gardens and meadows of Blackberry Farm. While some arrangements are made by gathering together a striking array of bright Sunflowers and Coreopsis highlighted with dark accents of Ironweed and Bee Balm, others provide a more relaxed atmosphere using more subtle tones of Butterfly Bush, Sedum, and aromatic herbs from our herb gardens—Purple Basil, Lavender and Salvia.

The efforts of the gardener are threefold: production, preservation and education. Production incorporates the preservation of heirloom varietals, and the process of planting these preserved varieties provides a wonderful platform for education. The gardeners welcome visitors and enjoy the opportunity to talk about the day’s harvest. They revel in passing on their knowledge and reverence for history. The garden rows offer an ideal classroom. One can simply observe to absorb the spirit of the garden or take a hands-on approach if dirty fingernails are within your comfort zone. Make sure to take to the time to visit our gardens. If you see one of our garden team members say hello. They’ll have a rocking chair waiting for you down by the garden shed.

“Each of these seeds tells a story, and the fruit they bear is only the half of it. It turns out you can trace each one back to some very interesting people and places."

– John Coykendall, Master Gardener

View the 2020 Blackberry Catalog

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