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Market Gardening

In our quest to convert lawn space to food space we quickly reached the point where we grew more than we could eat. So we decided to go all in and scale up enough to consistently bring produce to market every week of the year. We use caterpillar tunnels for extended season and winter gardening (zone 6B) as well as traditional summer garden plots which we rotate with chicken pasture. We use a low till approach and focus on consistent crop rotation and the application of lots of homemade compost to promote soil health

 
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This is our humble retail space at Community Farmers Market Bowling Green.  We manage to move a whole lot of produce (relatively speaking) through a pretty small space.

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These are our original custom PVC frame caterpillar tunnels. They served us well for three winters before succumbing to ice and snow

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The new and improved tunnels from Farmers' Friend are a work in progress, but nearly done.

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If anything can be considered the secret to our success (such as it is) it would likely be our home made compost. Because we include chicken manure from our coop, it is important to keep the piles separated in order to ensure that each pile has time to mellow so as to avoid "burning" plants with too much raw nitrogen. Our little stalls do the trick. We'll layer each pile around a PVC snorkel to keep the center ventilated, and then remove the snorkel when the pile is complete so that we can begin turning the compost. After a few weeks it is ready to sift and apply!

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The chicken rotation is another key to maintaining a sustainable soil ecosystem for low input gardening. Each year one of our three summer garden beds takes a turn being the chicken pasture. This gives the soil a bit of a rest and free fertilizer while providing our birds with some variety in their diet.