Hanging Out On Father’s Day

Father’s Day Weekend Events

Saturday: Permaculture Class – Several Interesting Topics 6AM-9AM – no charge (donations accepted)

When:Saturday June 17th,2017 6AM-9AM

What: Several Educational Topics including:

  • Creating a Breeze on your land
  • 18-Day Mulch Pile Building and Maintenance
  • Building an Inexpensive Hoop House

Where: RabbitEye Farm Front Lot


TreeclimbingSunday: Rope & Harness Tree Climbing Event (fundraiser)

When: Sunday June 18th, 2017 5PM-9PM coincides with RabbitEye Farm’s Evening Berry Picking

What: Rope & Harness Tree Climbing
It’s a great way to climb and a safe way to have fun in the trees.  Using arborist techniques, rope and harness tree climbing lets you have fun at any height. With several rope set-ups and several sizes of harnesses, several people can literally hang-out together while they climb.  Full Hour-$30: Half Hour-$20; and Quarter Hour-$15. visit www.treeclimbing.com for more information on this technique.

Where: RabbitEye Farm – near berry picking areas

 

Connecting Growers with Gardens

ONE of our goals here at Grayhill School Farm (GHSF) is to connect gardeners with land.
Here is our first success story for 2017:

Gardener RonThe Gardeners

Ron and Bonnie moved into our West Point, Georgia area from North Dakota.  They have terrific farming skills, but their small plot of land has poor soil and a lot of shade cover, which is less than ideal for growing a vegetable garden.  We got to know them when they attended some of our classes and we helped build a small nursery greenhouse on their property.  It was quickly apparent that they could use more gardening space.

Garden 2017The Land

RabbitEye Farm (REF), which grows blueberries and blackberries, had been preparing the soil on a front plot for a couple of years now, but it was still not being used.  With GHSF’s mission of connecting gardeners with land, REF decided that the area could be used for a better purpose! Ron and Bonnie began gardening in this new designated area in early 2017.  REF helped by adding on to their irrigation system to make it easier for them to water all the vegetable plants.  These are a few photos of that garden.

The Results: Enough produce to sell to you!

The results were fantastic!  Produce from this garden will be for sale at RabbitEye Farm right here in West Point, Georgia, just off of I-85 exit 6, on regular berry picking days: (link for directions below)
Thursdays and Sundays in June.  
Morning 6AM to 10AM and
Evening 5PM to 9PM. 
How convenient!  You can pick berries and get your produce at the same stop, all while supporting local farmers!

For easy directions click HERE.

Red Clay Gardening Class a Success

red clay gardeningThe Red-Clay Gardening class was deemed a success!  Thank you to all who attended, your questions were great.  If you didn’t make it to our first permaculture session, there are still more things to learn.  Our next topic is “No Till/No Weed Winter Prep”.  I want to clarify the time of these sessions held on Sundays.  From 2:00 PM until around 3:00 PM will be the “educational part”, and then from 3:30 PM until 6:00 PM are tours, questions, discussion, fellowship and networking.  You do not have to stay for the entire time.  If you are only interested in the educational topic, then your time commitment is from 2:00 PM to around 3:00 PM.  Remember, these sessions are free in the month of January.  The meeting place is RabbitEye Farm 279 Grayhill School Road, West Point, GA (for now), but we are technically located next door.  With this wonderful weather, and the nature of our topics, we will be outside at RabbitEye Farm anyway.

As I take the Permaculture Design Course from Geoff Lawton, I am trying to provide a place where folks can gather to learn and share about sustainable gardening relevant to our area. Permaculture is an important movement that we all need to take part in.  If you are not familiar with the term permaculture, I will be glad to introduce you to it.

Gray Hill School Farm is an educational source.  We are a not-for-profit organization dedicated to keeping our community and land healthy through sustainable agriculture education.

Agriculture After Church

red basketAgriculture After Church at Gray Hill School Farm – A great way to start the New Year! Gray Hill School Farm is hosting a series of free educational, family friendly events to promote sustainable, healthy lifestyles. Sundays 2pm-6pm. Learn what local farmers and gardeners are doing to make the transition to sustainability easier with hands on workshops, lectures, farm tours and a chance to hang out with some really great people. Our first workshop addresses abundant gardening in red clay soils.

Gray Hill School Farm campus is a hammock hanging paradise, adjacent to, and surrounded by, RabbitEye Farm.  Beech groves, springs, and streams abound on the walking trails of the 60-acre property. We are studying and implementing Permaculture ethics and techniques to protect these assets while creating eco-systems designed to self-regenerate topsoil while growing more and more of our own food.

Gray Hill School Farm is currently considering best-use applications for rental of on-campus housing/meeting/garden areas for family, interns, home school groups, or similar- with an interest in sustainable agriculture research and education.

Beyond sustainable, Gray Hill School Farm is a ministry of community abundance. Our vision is to connect growers with land, and teach children and adults a regenerative process of growing healthy food for themselves and their neighbors.  Shared, entrepreneurial opportunities and experiments are encouraged.

Permaculture Education Meet-Up Announced! Learn All About It!

Permaculture Before and AfterWelcome to 2017. We at Grayhill School Farm are very excited to be able to bring you Permaculture Education. Permanent agriculture or permaculture, is ethics driven agriculture designed to create fertile, living topsoil.  Our vision is to connect growers with land, and teach children and adults a regenerative process of growing healthy food for themselves and their neighbors.

Our community education/meet-up sessions will take place on Sunday afternoons from 2:00 pm until 6:00 pm. The location: All sessions are at Grayhill School Farm, which adjoins RabbitEye Farm at 279 Grayhill School Road, West Point, GA – Parking at RabbitEye Farm and short walk to education building. Our first session titled “Red Clay Ditch Gardening” will take place Sunday January 15, 2017, which is coming up soon.  All January sessions are free to the community and will include farm tours. Weather appropriate clothing and comfortable shoes required.

Session One:  Red-Clay Ditch Gardening   January 15, 2017   2-6 pm

Farmscaping in the red clay zone, creating “living soil” – How to build natural eco-systems that break down accumulated minerals and carbons into forms readily available to plants while minimizing needs for water and fertilizers. Learn about permaculture techniques employed by RabbitEye Farm to change “grow nothing red clay” into lush, abundant food production.

Session Two:  No Till & No Weeds – easy winter prep   January 22, 2017   2-6 pm

Learn what you should be doing NOW to prepare your Spring kitchen garden with abundant, organic, living soil. Allow nature to do most of the work and use materials available at almost no cost and very little labor. See examples of first year to five year no till beds and differences in several soil prep methods. The sooner you start the better the soil.

Session Three: Mini Greenhouses – inexpensive and wind resistant  January 29, 2017   2-6 pm

Easily assembled, using parts readily available from Tractor Supply or similar farm supply store. Learn how to build a 9×8 Greenhouse/shade house for about $175.  The length is scaleable in 4 foot increments. Build a 9×20  for about $350. Attractive in rural or urban environments. We will explore using these as a supplemental heating source for homes or barns. Self-heating and self-venting methods will also be discussed along with practical tips on assembly.

 

Red Basket

red basket

The Farm Report –pot-lucks, farm tours and crowd funding  The more I learn about sustainable and regenerative gardening, the more there is to learn. I will always be a student, yet I feel a calling to teach and spread good news of abundant living.

Friday evenings in August -I am asking family, friends, and supporters to join me in pot-luck dinners. I need your prayers, ideas, energy and skills. We will hang some hammocks, climb some trees and find some common ground.  Acoustic instruments are encouraged. Fun starts at 4:30 p.m. We will ask God’s blessing on the food and wine at 7 p.m.

Saturdays in August- To bring awareness to our crowd funding drive, Gray Hill School Farm will host “open house” with farm tours and introductions to permaculture, aquaponics and beekeeping. We want to provide the tools so you and your family can share in our vision of abundance and health. These are walking tours so bring comfortable shoes. There will be plenty of places to enjoy a picnic or hang a hammock. Acoustic music is always encouraged, so feel free to bring an instrument.

The future??  We have been planning, planting and building for 4 years. Our money, our time and  the help of many volunteers have brought us this next phase of growth.  Local philanthropists need to see your support before committing funds to the vision.  The local Woodmen Chapter has organised a crowd funding campaign through Red Basket.   We are currently using the rental property on RabbitEye Farm while building the Aquapoincs facility. If we raise $100 or $100,000  our research will continue,  whether as an unsupported hobby or a supported ministry, time will tell.

Share the vision– Please read the About section for more details on our community vision. I will be honored to speak or present at your churches, civic groups or other organisations to raise awareness for the Gray Hill School Farm and our vision of community abundance.

Doug Roberts Farmlandthropist

Gray Hill School Farm

 

Neonicotinoids – Honeybee Colony Collapse – Local Home Depot

What are Neonicotinoids?  Why should we all be concerned, upset, outraged?  If you don’t read any further, read this: Neonicotinoids are a LEGAL (now in 2016) insecticide that has been linked to honeybee colony collapse.

First of all, this topic is not new, this group of chemicals is not new and the information and concerns about the findings are not new.  Government action on this topic is moving at glacier speed. Moving, yes…quickly, no.  You should be aware of this information and keep yourself knowledgeableIt effects YOU.

Neonicotinoids are a specialized systemic agricultural insecticide resembling nicotine.  Systemic means that it is actually in the plant.  Many are water soluble so they can be taken up by the plant as it grows.  The first commercial use was as a seed coating.  You probably remember seeing corn seed coated with a pink powder.  There are several “varieties” of neonicotinoids including Nitenpyram, Dinotefuran, Thiacloprid, Acetamiprid, Clothianidin, Thiamethoxam and Imidacloprid. Invented back near the 1970’s and coming under scrutiny back in the 1990’s, these chemicals have been used all over the world.  Eighty percent of all seeds in 2008 were treated with neonicotinoids.

In 2008, the link to colony collapse became more prominent when a planted cornfield undeniably poisoned a massive amount of nearby honeybees in Germany.  Germany suspended use, followed by France and Italy.  The U.S. did not.  Again, a 2012 study found thiamethozam and clothianidin (both neonicotinoids) in dead bees in agricultural settings.  Some bees still alive had tremors and convulsions both indicating poison.  Tests also proved that corn pollen foraged by bees tested positive for neonicotinoids.  Recent research establishes toxicity for both honeybees and other beneficial insects even with very low levels of contact.

In 2013 almost all corn in the US was treated with either clothianidin or thiamethoxam. And a year later the soybean growers joined in along with cotton and sugar beets.  Now, soybean growers are using the most neonicotinoids of any major crop.  Yes, increasing use, not decreasingBayer Cropscience and Syngenta are two major manufacturers of neonicotinoids whose names you probably recognize.  So, the U.S. continues to allow use… why?  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) operates a 15-year review cycle for all pesticides… let that sink in… 15 years!

Neonicotinoid TagBut there’s more.  These chemicals are not limited for use by commercial growers.  Many plants and seeds sold to consumers are treated as well as the availability of “consumer use” insecticides for purchase.  Locally, (in 2016) we found tags on plants in Home Depot labeling the plant as being treated with neonicotinoids.  Specifically, one of the plants was a Butterfly Bush, a pollinator attracting plant!  (A Butterfly bush is not usually susceptible to invasive insects anyway.) So, a plant purchased specifically to provide forage for pollinators may actually be doing harm. The tags found were not prominent.  Apparently, Home Depot requires plants treated with neonicotinoids be labeled as such, but the company continues to sell them.  How many plants are available to buy nationwide that are not labeled?  There is no law that consumers must know the plant has been treated with a systemic insecticide. Still, Home Depot is knowingly selling neonicotinoid infused plants.

Although small, Maryland, on a state level, in April of 2016, has restricted the use of insecticides “by consumers” containing neonicotinoids.  A partial ban is better than no ban.  Maryland has at least recognized the problem.

The EPA is evaluating this insecticide group and is said to release its findings in 2018… like I said, glacier speed.

Please research this topic on your own, read labels, check tags and hopefully choose NOT to buy neonicotinoid products, plants and seeds.

Vision Overview

Gray Hill School FarmAfter much study and prayer toward serving my community, Gray Hill School Farm was created on faith. A not for profit entity, our mission is to be a catalyst for sustainable community abundance through research and education.

The vision for community abundance is a collective of projects to create sustainable infrastructure. Philanthropists of this generation need to become “farmlandthropists”. Individuals, organizations and municipalities working together will ensure generational resources for our families and communities. When we create food we create jobs.

The 33rd parallel is one of the best places to grow food crops in the country. Our near perfect climate, sunlight hours, and available water, are ideal for year round growing, with minimum heat and cooling requirements. The rolling foothills in this area create a multitude of microclimates suitable for a huge variety of species and crops. With the creation of mini-eco-systems, much more can be produced on smaller acreage, with less inputs and labor.

By the time our children and grandchildren enter the workforce, much of the agricultural economy will have shifted to our part of the country. Napa Valley is quickly running out of water. Many of the mega-farmers are looking at relocating to the southeast. Having sustainable infrastructure in place will prevent many of the same mistakes from occurring here.

Individually:

  1. Home Gardens– There are many ways to make small backyard gardens and orchards easier and less expensive to grow and maintain. Seniors, children, and working adults can benefit from methods that require less time and energy to produce healthy, home grown food.
  2. Small/Medium Scale Farming– Large yields produced on small acreage will encourage entrepreneurism and help keep family farms viable. Many techniques are scalable for larger operations.

Municipally:

  1. Municipal Composting –Troup County has the potential to save Millions of tax dollars, while reducing municipal waste treatment and discharge. Land fill Inputs would be reduced with a possible revenue stream from creating high yield topsoil for private and public use. Preliminary research indicates that Troup County is an ideal candidate for success.
  2. Food Forests- Planting large areas of food plants that mimic the natural growth in the area. We can identify what is already growing naturally, and finding edible or food bearing plants with similar characteristics to recreate self-sustaining eco-systems.
  3.  Green Entrepreneurship- Attracting retirees and entrepreneurs. Providing mentorships, business training and tax incentives for agro/eco businesses will give our best and brightest an opportunity to stay and contribute to our community.

 

Community:

  1. Community Gardens- There are many areas in the city and county ideal for community garden sites. Starting with high yield, easy to grow crops such as collards or sweet potatoes.

Partnerships Forging relationships with Schools, Churches, Organizations, Institutions, Home Schoolers, and Local Farms. Providing space and opportunities for Research Experiments, On-Site Gardens, Workshops, Videos, Internships, and Volunteer Opportunities.