Blackberry Life

Winter in the Garden Shed

People often assume that the Garden Shed is only active during the Spring and Summer months.

It is true that we are at our most hectic pace during those early months when we are in the process of setting out plants and bringing others along to be set out later.

That however is only part of the story. The Garden Shed is alive with activity year-round, and many of my best times spent with guests have been spent visiting in the Garden Shed. During the Winter you never know who might drop by to spend time visiting around the woodburning stove. Often when we have rainy days and it is too cold to take guests on Garden tours, we spend the allotted time in the shed. We talk about our gardening operations and the history behind the heritage seeds that we preserve and grow here on the Farm.

Hanging from the ceiling, walls and all around the shed are antique farming tools which we still use in the fields. I also love using some shed time to tell stories about those who have gone on before us – the old farmers who I have known down through the years, the ones who passed so much of their knowledge on to me.

During the months of November and December we have activities at the shed for our guests which include shucking corn, shelling corn, grinding corn into meal and shelling out peas, beans and butterbeans which will be used by our chefs and also preserved for future crops.

Every January Blackberry Farm hosts the annual Southern Foodways Alliance gathering, which is my personal favorite event here at the Farm.

One of my fondest memories is of an evening when a number of guests including chefs, farmers and guest speakers all wound up down at the Garden Shed for a spur of the moment gathering.

This was an unscheduled event which turned into a lively celebration and sharing of many stories and passions that we have in common for our dedication to the serving of SFA ideals.

A final thought about Winter visits to the Garden Shed – We have a number of guests who visit the Garden Shed for the sole purpose of visiting Hyssop, our farm cat. Hyssop is a light gray cat with dark gray striping and can usually be found napping beside the woodburning stove. She is definitely the hostess for the Garden Shed.

– John Coykendall, Master Gardener

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