Overgrown and abandoned lots are being transformed into urban farms around the country. While that may seem like a simple idea, we can tell you firsthand that the process is not. Permits, zoning, clearing the land… you get the idea. The most important part is that, slowly but surely, Woodside City Farm is moving forward! Aside from being a working urban farm, we also uphold our duty to the land by being good stewards. That means soil and water conservation practices are and will be key to everything we do – starting with the farm plan itself.
Working with Nature
Less pollution will enter the low-lying floodplain and the Reedy River if our veggie beds soak up as much rain as possible and help filter what’s left. This will reduce the chance of flooding, as well as the amount of pollution entering the Reedy River. Rain can pick up oil, yard waste, chemicals, and pet waste as it flows into storm drains, gutters, or directly into bodies of water, like the Reedy. Not only can these pollutants be harmful to river life, they can also affect our drinking water. If we don’t protect our soil and water, then we aren’t protecting the resources we depend on.
We’ll seed the floodplain with native plants and use the forested areas to cultivate mushrooms. We will also use these areas to protect natural wildlife habitats. There’s a large oak tree in the forested area, which will be the focal point of our outdoor classroom. The large crop fields are south-facing slopes. This will give crops plenty of sunlight while also giving neighbors and passersby a great view of the farm. A slight slope will help stop soil erosion in the fields. This also prevents water from pooling and forming small ponds. Our future cropland in the south, which is isolated by the flood plain, will require a small road with a gutter so that we can access the field after heavy rains. To the east, an understory food forest will feature a variety of edible plants in the canopy, understory, and ground cover.
The greenhouse is on an east-west axis. The trees on the north will act as a windbreak during winter; the road and fields to the south allow for full sun. During the summer, venting along the south side will invite cooler air in. The barn and farm stand are near the entrance for better visibility. Space around the buildings will be used for parking and gardens.
Our total growing space will be three acres when all is said and done. As clearing continues, we’re very happy to start with the 1/10 of an acre that’s ready to go! We rely on healthy ecosystems more than we realize. We hope students will leave the garden not only knowing how to grow food, but also with a new appreciation for soil and water.