TERRA FLORA MARKET GARDEN
Sean, Maggie and their friend Lawton are currently cultivating just about one acre on their farm located in Norwood, North Carolina. They are leasing nine acres from a couple who are the current stewards of a portion of land southeast of Charlotte. They believe in the mantra "Know Thy Farmer" and encourage anyone with questions about the farm or their growing practices to find them at the farm or at one of their two current markets: Matthews Community Farmers' Market every Saturday from 8-12, or Uptown Farmers Market every Saturday 8-12:30.
Though there are eight farmable acres available, the market garden is currently sustained intensively on around one and a half acres, utilizing practices Sean and Maggie learned from their time managing Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine. These include:
Succession Planting (planting crops on a schedule of every week to every other week to ensure continued harvest throughout the growing season)
Bio-intensive crop rotation (pulling out spent crops to quickly make space for a new crop), and
Cover Cropping (planting grasses and grains in plots that won't be used for some time to prevent erosion, improve soil structure and provide continued nutrient density).
Organic practices (while they are not yet USDA certified they are committed to strictly following organic practices. These include no pesticides, no GMOs, no harmful chemicals).
Low Till practices (currently, as the farm operation grows, the farmers practice shallow cultivation, meaning deep soil layers are disturbed as little as possible. Tillage, specifically the act of churning up deep soil matter and bringing it to the surface compacts and degrades soil when done frequently over time because it creates a hardpan below the soil surface and continually reintroduces a "weed seed bank" which results in new weed germination each season).
Permanent raised bed system (this means the bed top and pathway locations do not change. This allows the team to reduce soil compaction by maintaining the same foot pathways ensuring that any growing space is not walked on. Permanent raised bed systems are compatible with farms that are completely no-till to farms that use tractors as the dimension of a 1ft pathway and a 30-inch bed top is the standard in the market garden industry and most cultivation tools (including some tractors!) are made with these dimensions in mind.
Hand-powered aeration (this is particularly conducive inside tunnels where larger machinery use is limited. It consists of breaking up the hardpan with an implement called a broadfork, and "mixing" just the top two inches of soil with a drill-powered tool called the Tilther. This incorporates organic amendments such as alfalfa, bone, blood, or feather meal, boron, compost, etc.).
Maggie, Sean, and Lawton's primary goal is conservationism through land, farming and place-based stewardship. They recognize that though the land is not "theirs," it never actually was, and there were many care takers of this land before them. They aim to farm in a way that will provide richer soil and more nutrient-dense food for generations to come.
While they have been privileged enough to find land with owners who support the efforts of young farmers, and who share a common goal of expanding responsible agriculture, starting a farm is certainly no small matter. If you find yourself in a position to donate to their Beginning Farm Fund, know that they are deeply grateful for your contribution, and your belief in them, and their passions. Any amount helps-- even $5 buys a packet of seeds!
The three are beyond elated to continue sharing the development of their livelihood and their shared dream. For more information about their backgrounds in farming and how they came to start Terra Flora, check out the "About Us" tab under About Us dropdown menu.
“To love a place is not enough. We must find ways to heal it.” -Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
Observation, adaptation, and soil health are the focus of our farm.
Seeking to honor and support natural ecosystems is one of the many privileges of farming, and we are lucky to share a common goal of protecting the land, water, and their native species from degradation and exploitation. We seek to listen to and learn from the earth.
We value honing symbiotic relationships between animals, plants, soil and people. We strive to acknowledge wisdom of the past and connect it to those who will engage with the land long after us. The traditions of our farming practices are not new, and in fact have been informed by centuries of indigenous land stewards before us.
Sharing what we know is key to the success of this farm and the growth of our community. We do not own our knowledge; nor do we have all of the answers. Through collaboration opportunities and open conversations that aim to connect people with their food it is our goal to provide the educational tools needed to empower and create self-sustaining communities with greater access to nutrient-rich vegetables.
Farming is a commitment to life-long learning. Our team will continue to invite opportunities to learn with and from those who have a deeper knowledge of the land and the practices of which we seek to understand, as well as teach and share with those who wish to expand their awareness and comprehension of farming, gardening, and gratitude for the earth.