Coming soon! We want to feature farms that are doing it well or doing it differently! We want to give people virtual farm tours as well. We said we will be putting on the first farm soon and it will be Whirlwind Farm belonging to Dove and Russell Stackhouse. Dove runs our food hub! They currently live in Geraldine. But we have actually gone out of order of our original plan!!
The second farm will be Echo Ridge Farm here in Collinsville! That farm belongs to Dr. Koe!
We also want to feature the Smith Farm here in Collinsville. They sell blueberries and muscadines that are grown organically. They have a U-Pick farm for both of these items. Sonya Knight and her family work hard every year to provide us with these wonderful fruits. Her father labored many years planting and reproducing. Muscadines are in season in September so they are coming soon.
Another farm we will feature is Shipshape Farm in Mobile. They are building container gardens for restaurants, inner cities and possibly the military and NASA!
If you have a farm suggestion please send it my way and we will do our best to consider putting them on our page!
Echo Ridge Farm
Again I am running out of order!! My first featured farm below was Shipshape Urban Farm. We have not had an opportunity to get to Whirlwind Farm! So much to do!! Today I will add pictures and information about my farm, Echo Ridge Farm.
I bought this farm 13 1/2 years ago (Feb. 2006) and feel so lucky to have found such a beautiful place! I had looked all over north Alabama, anywhere north of I59. Most of the land was $3000 – $6000/acre and had very few trees, was a pine plantation or needed so much work to make it livable. I was struggling. I was looking for an empty medical clinic and a piece of land near the same location! That is how I found this farm in Collinsville. There was not much here except corn/soy bean fields, trees, a small little used farm house and a chert pit! And this waterfall! The soil had been drilled with corn and other farm products for close to 100 years. Soil fertility was low. There were lots of bald spots in the fields where nothing would grow.
Immediately we began to put down cover crops and stop growing conventionally. We bought a Yanmar tractor to bush hog. We began building our barn which became the house and barn. My house was 400sq ft and when the bathroom was added it became 480 sq ft! I had a loft bedroom area that was 7×8 ft. We had four solar panels on the roof!! There was no city water when we got here so my neighbor let me haul 50 gal barrels of water until city water came!! I actually took a shower outside at the back of the barn for a few weeks after starting my clinic! It was cold out there by the time we learned we had city water to our property.
So year by year we have kept growing a garden, adding cover crops to the fields and building fences. We have added small 8×10 and 8×12 cabins in three other locations where our company will stay when they come visit. There was not much room for my three girls and their growing families and Tim was struggling to keep building so I found a tiny house builder in Brilliant, Alabama and bought a tiny house about four years ago. It is actually big enough for all three families to cram in if needed as it has a huge loft where all 7 grand kids could sleep. We have not tried this yet!
Our first mascots!!
Then more pictures of our firsts: large solar system, summer kitchen, wood shed (actually our second as Tim accidentally burned down the first!), and other pictures of farm life!
We had snow and snakes! Tim is 6’1″ so this snake was pretty long!!
We came to realize our fields would not improve in fertility without animals grazing on them so we also have gotten some goats and their fearless protector, Crusty, our pyrenees. We have been learning slowly about how to take care of chickens, rabbits and goats. So we have started small and will expand our animal population this year. We now have muscovy ducks added to our menagerie.
We have planted many trees, unfortunately with many dying during droughts and lack of knowledge as to how to plant them! We have planted gardens, including herb beds, vegetable beds, berry beds of several sorts and we are working on adding color to our very green farm! So soon we will have flower beds. We have had some flowers around but have not been so successful in getting them to live and bloom year after year.
I work full time as a family physician and my other half is a full time stay at home partner. Even though he does not have farming as his passion he helps a lot but now we have built a wood shop for his enjoyment and passion!
When one helps as much as they do to bring about the dreams of another that one deserves his own dreams!
Tim builds furniture using only hand tools with no electricity. He is very excited to have his own shop and be able to do this. He cuts the trees down on our property and then prepares the wood to build furniture.
So, how does one keep up with the amount of work to be done on a farm? We do not sell much off our farm currently except eggs and some vegetables. But we do provide for some of our own food. Our plan is to become a teaching farm and hopefully a producing farm in retirement. We have had several helpers come to work on our farm but that is not always easy when there is not a foreman always to watch over the work. So we work slowly and build systems that will hopefully help keep the farm in order.
We are so fortunate to have the ability to do what we love on Echo Ridge Farm. My ultimate goal is to live a healthy life as an example to my community and patients. We hope to share our space here with others as we set up our farm to teach school kids and many others how to have food, farm and good health all together.
Shipshape Urban Farm
Instead of the order of farms listed above I am going to put on a YouTube video of Shipshape farm first. It is a great idea! We will be following to see if the farm works out as they expected! They are new and a start up that is working toward something that they feel will revolutionize farming in some locations like inner cities and other places where farming is difficult such as the dessert. My son-in-law Carlos is a part of this company so I know it more intimately. Their web site is here: https://www.shipshapeurbanfarms.com/
This YouTube video below is the concept of their farm.
This next video is a walk through of their first container.
There will be more discussion on our blog at a later date about the greater details of container gardening vs open land gardening.
Many people are working toward eliminating food desserts in inner cities. It is a difficult situation for those who cannot afford to buy healthy foods in our inner cities. There have been several projects including food trucks and other innovative solutions to help with food desserts. We will try to present those as well over the next few weeks.
My son-in-law has been on the news in Mobile this week with our newest featured farm!! Visit site below!!
“It’s a 3.4 acre farm inside a 320 square foot shipping container,” explained Dale Speetjens, CEO & Co-founder ShipShape Urban Farms.
Calling it a “Business in a Box” — Speetjens gave us a tour. Inside the container garden was several varieties of lettuce in various stages of growth.
“Inside here right now it’s a balmy 70 degrees and it’s this temperature whether it’s 100 degrees outside or 30 degrees,” said Speetjens.
Every variable is controlled by a computer system.
“This here is I would say the brain of the container… This is actually the control,” said Carlos Augusto, VP of Manufacturing ShipShape Urban Farms.
From the temperature, PH levels, lighting, and right amount of water — Augusto manages the day to day operations using hydroponic technology.
They’re able to recycle the water – using only 10% of what a traditional farm uses and cutting down the growth time from 12 weeks to five weeks. The process all starts with employees planting seeds into individuals cells.
While they’re seeding each cell by hand — machines will eventually take over the process. The seedlings are then placed into the nursery section of the container.
Each container is designed for one person to work about 15 to 20 hours a week. The containers producing 1,200 heads of lettuce weekly.
“So one of the steps we did to help is to make more efficient. We developed these lids and all the farmer needs to do to harvest is to pull the lid out and they harvest all the lettuce at once,” Augusto demonstrated.
Each container costs $95,000 and upward. Debuting their prototype in New Orleans at the Louisiana Restaurant Association Expo in August — ShipShape Urban Farms generated a lot of interest.
“Over 3,000 people walked through garden close to 300 to 400 people say they were interested in becoming a ShipShape Urban farmer,” said Speetjens. “Eventually we’d like to create a network of urban farmers where all of us work together to produce food for our local communities.
Because it’s all done on computer and backed up every 15 minutes on a server — ShipShape can monitor every stage of growth and share success stories with other farmers. There’s also an app that allows the farmers to control settings from their phones.
“We will be able to monitor all the urban farms through the computer system — not only to assist them, but if we have a container that is producing more than average — we can contact that farmer and share their experience with other farmers,” explained Augusto.
The company hopes to build about 850 over the next five years. They currently have 40 pending orders and say while their focus is on the southern region of the U.S. — they’ve had interest from as far away as the Galapagos Islands, India, Canada, and South America.