For almost 16 years, showing visitors the big garden across the road, I have felt compelled to explain that the land wasn’t mine: it belonged to the farm that adjoins mine on the South. It was an orphan plot left when US 25 and the Southern Railway cut off a number of loops of the old Covington-Lexington Pike: that family bought it in. My neighbors, a kind older couple, had let me use it (it’s flatter than anything near my house) since the mid 90’s, but declined frequent offers to buy it.
Now both are gone, and their farm is up for sale. This week brought the conclusion of a deal to add the 2.6 acres to Shady Grove Farm.
For all those years of adding mulch and manure, trying tiller after tiller till finding the best one to work the clay soil, digging up inconvenient rocks, I thought only vaguely about what I could do if it were mine.
Crunch time! How’s this for a list?
Clear fence row: tricky, as the scrubby trees conceal fragments of tough old wire, but may also support promising bittersweet vines
Raised beds: a massive task, not one I’d tackle on land I didn’t own, and which still can only be done one plot at a time
Cut brush back to right-of-way fence
Drop big trees that now shade the far west ends of planted rows
Post signs (I’m gonna love this part) saying “Property of Shady Grove Farm: please no trash!”
Wait for the locust trees that I had to bushhog around, to get a little stouter, then cut them for fence posts
Now all that work of mowing, soil improvement, rock removal, drainage, brush clearing, has come home to benefit my own farm. What next?