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All About Skidaway Farms

By Linda Dillard - skidawayfarms600@gmail.com
Skidaway Farms

Skidaway Farms was established in 2011 with a helping hand from Skidaway Audubon, The Landings Club, and many friends providing funds, hours of labor, and love. As I travel the United States and share our farming experience with friends and community volunteers, it is rare if they can compare to the developing experience we have built and thoroughly enjoy daily at Skidaway Farms.

Recently, I was in Chandler, Arizona and got to visit a church community garden that my sister-in-law, Barbara Dillard, is instrumental in reviving and continuing to build. She visited our Farm last spring and left excited that theirs could be as unique as our Farm. Yes, it can, but I share with you that she does not have anywhere near the enormous buy-in regarding building a sustainable garden as we do at The Landings. Granted, they are reviving a project started by a few that lost momentum, and the new Board is very zealous in wanting to make this work. They also have the support of their affiliated church that may now view it tentatively due to the former lack of interest. But if I could wager money on this project, the new Board is gung ho and will be chomping at our heels as a look-a-like in a few years. Let’s remember too, gardening in the desert is at a different level than gardening here, both good and bad.

There currently are 131 active farmer plots at Skidaway Farms. Yes, we have a few available plots if you wish to join us. We currently have all raised beds leased. A raised bed leases for $150 plus $75 refundable deposit if you return your plot in the manner you received. We do have a few regular 8’ x 10’ plots and a couple of double plots (16’ x 20’) available as of today. The regular 8’ x 10’ beds rent for $100 per year with a $75 refundable deposit.

The camaraderie at Skidaway Farms is unmeasurable. Nobody enters or leaves the gates at Skidaway Farms feeling like a stranger. We invite any Landings resident to come out and take a look. You normally will find a farmer tending his or her plot or doing volunteer work to better the Farm. Naturally, it is best to contact me (912-200-3158 or skidawayfarms600@gmail.com) to get the 50-cent tour or email Jane Kollman (gardenher52@aol.com).

Some people believe farming is innate. For some farmers it is. But trust me…it also can be learned. You must only be interested and willing to share your level of expertise and learn from some of our experienced farmers. This leads me to the topic of being a willing and interested student. Some of our most interested students are our Landings Youth. They are a true testament to fostering the learning curve of gardening. Jane Kollmann offers a spring/summer and fall/winter combined program of group gardening and individual/team plot gardening.

Jane meets with the children every Saturday morning from 8:30 to 11 a.m. depending on the tasks for the day at Skidaway Farms. They currently are on their winter break and will start their spring/summer session at the end of March and complete that session by planting a cover crop at the end of June. The fall/winter session starts at the end of September and goes until February. (We can’t give you exact dates, as it all depends on the weather for planting).

Farmer Jane, being one of our expert gardeners, teaches the children all about every detail of becoming an expert gardener. (Trust me, some seasons I look at their garden and ask myself why their veggies look so much larger or healthier than mine.) Jane teaches them the properties and importance of good soil, amending your soil, ideal ground temperature for planting, weeding, mulching, pollinators, groundcover options, proper harvesting, and ultimately being a good neighboring gardener.

Beyond the group gardening lesson, The Children’s Garden Program offers committed young farmers divided plots where they pick their choice plantings and manage their garden with oversite of Farmer Jane and a parent.

To qualify for the Group Sessions, a child must commit to attending at least three Saturday sessions each month. We accept children five-to-12-years-old. The fee for a season is $10 per child and is due on the first day of each season. Currently, we have a few spaces available in our Group Class. The deadline for registration and payment is March 23, for the spring season. If your child is interested, please email Jane Kollmann (gardener52@aol.com). We do accept donations for the Youth Farmer Fund to offset costs, should you be interested in supporting the Green Thumbs of our Landings Youth.

On another note, the last expected frost date for our area is March 15, with a 30% chance we could experience a late frost. This means it is time to amend your beds with mushroom compost, cow manure, your select compost, etc. My plot neighbor, Farmer Kevin, and I were chatting the other day after he helped me secure some dividers I added to my garden. He asked if I had ordered compost that was being delivered February 13. I assured him that I had. He said, ”Well, you know, you can walk through the gardens and tell which people understand the importance of amending their soil. Some beds grow, others, not.” Come by and look at Farmer Kevin’s plethora of lettuce. We are not certain he does not have a contract with Publix or Kroger’s produce departments!

Stay tuned for my next article, where I will touch on rotating crops, our Spring Festival, and maybe even chat about Georgia bugs we love or want to eliminate.

Remember, “There are no intentional gardening mistakes, just new experiments.”