The biggest project of the past couple of weeks has been to start turning the old horse corral into a series of raised beds that will be come the cornerstone of the JAZ Farm sustainability food project. After plowing up the soil (which had been pounded flat over the years by horse hooves) Farmer Jon and the tractor plowed up the ground and then tilled it into a much finer mixture. We chose the horse corral because it had some fence posts already in, and it had been fertilized by those same horses.
The beds are all approximately a tractor width wide and the walkway in between them is also about the same. It is wide enough to get a tractor down and a small flat bed trailer, for easy access to the plants. We dug up the dirt in the pathways and dumped them into the raised beds. So far we have 14 beds, 4 – 5 feet wide and averaging 35 feet long. This is about 2/3 done. We estimate it will be 20 beds all of similar size. There is also the ability to lengthen them and/or add more should we think it necessary (haha!)
This is a huge project! While we want to be able to be as food sufficient as possible, this is likely way more than we need. Perhaps we will be able to sell some and also donate to food banks. Only when we got out there and started making the thing did we realize just how big half an acre really is (and I was originally thinking of starting with a full acre!)!
My big concern, considering that we want it to be chemical free, is how to come up with the volume of compost that will be necessary to build the soil. There is manure left from the previous owners, but that will run out very quickly. Something else to ponder on our way to getting this big adventure up and running!