“Bee-ing” Friendly at Broad Shoulders Farm
All, we are so excited for this opportunity to further develop Broad Shoulders Farm as an ecological farm and garden!
We value the health of the soil and the life that sustains it, as healthy soil produces healthy food and our mission is all about growing clean, tasty, nutritionally-dense food.
Ben was so excited to discover this grant because it reflects many of the values and farming practices he already brings to the farm.
When the plantings paid for by this grant are complete and the flowers appear this fall and next spring, we hope to be awash in a symphony of bee activity, and we are really excited to also share the how, what, and why of what we did with other farmers in Halifax County. Imagine if we were a Certified Bee Friendly County?!
There are half-a-dozen stages to the project:
Design - Identify and plan bee friendly bedding areas and short list of plants and suppliers
Secure Funding - Working with ChangeX has been incredibly smooth
Plants List - Compile final list of plant and seed sources and order from suppliers
Bed Prep - While awaiting order fulfillment, begin planting bed preparation
Planting - Let’s get those good bee friends in the ground!
Monitoring and Reporting - LOTS of videos and social media shares about what we’re doing and how it’s coming along
So where are we going to put this bee friendly stuff?
Our main planting area will be along the inside of the vegetable garden fence as established. This 6’ tall, welded wire fence is a perfect scaffold for vegetation, and as the bee forage crops develop they’ll serve as an excellent windbreak to protect vegetable crops.
The fence around the main garden provides more than 800 running feet of space to develop beds for perennial flowers, herbs, vegetables, shrubs, and espaliered fruit trees. What’s more, we can double the space available by using the opposite side of the fence as well.
We also plan to make use of both the inner and outer fence lines of the Composting Garden and the Rooster Run, which all together will make nearly 3000 running feet of beds designed to support bee activity!
But, our plan is not just for the spaces closest to our daily operations. The farm and garden are backed up against 100+ acres of forest, and we are building on the species already found in the tree line by planting additional chestnut, hazelnut, tulip poplar, and black locust trees—all excellent sources of forage for bees at different times of the year. In this way, our plan is to offer an incredible, diverse, and resilient buffet of nectar and pollen sources throughout the year when bees are active.
Additionally, there are the fruit trees and supporting species of plants going into the orchard restoration and poultry food forest paddocks, so really, the whole place is going to be alive with bee and pollinator activity if we do this right.
Preference will be given at every opportunity for plants that are perennial in nature. With Ben’s background as a Virginia Master Gardener and his certifications in Permaculture, we are confident that we will plant appropriate, long-lived and “bee-loved” species.
Most live plants will be purchased from suppliers Ben has worked with in the past including Stark Brothers Nursery, Cold Stream Farm, Raintree Nursery, and Edible Landscaping in Afton, VA. For plants that need to be started from seed, we will work with local greenhouse and nursery Tuck Family Farms to grow transplants to be set into the beds once readied; seeds will likely be sourced from Johnny’s, Baker Creek, Burpee, and Seedsavers Exchange.
We don’t want to hide our light under a bushel, and Ben would like to use his drone and social media channels to record videos discussing what is happening at each stage of the project, and opportunities for folks in the community to get involved. Social distancing in the era of COVID 19 may restrict many activities, but at the least we are hopeful to answer questions in live video discussions and on social media.
If you can’t tell, we are all really excited about this!
There are a lot of moving parts to this project, and many, many opportunities for folks to be involved, to learn, and to try and reproduce any succeses we have—and avoid any failures we make!—so please share this project far and wide and follow us on this awesome journey.
~The Bee Friendly at Broad Shoulders Farm Team