There are megafarms, with operations so extensive as to be maniacal. Some would say diabolical. There are farms with monoculture, and farms with mixed culture, farms dairy and farms aquatic, farms retail and farms wholesale. There are small farms. There are minifarms. And now there is even an official category for “microfarms”.
We’re not even big enough to be a microfarm, but welcome to our mini-microfarm at the Tompound. I say “our”, because my wife and family are part of the operation, too. Without them there would be an entirely different garden here.
Welcome to Wishetwurra Farm. We’re not really a Pick Your Own operation, but my friend Seth made this sign thirty-five years ago, for a customer who decided not to use it. After thirty-four years in the basement, the sign has come back to the light. We’ll move it to the backside of the gate, one of these years.
Wishetwurra Farm is a trapezoidal chunk of east facing moraine. Approximately ninety feet long and forty feet wide, which is approximately four thousand square feet. Hydrologically speaking, the Farm is part of the Tiasquam River drainage area. The Tiasquam flows into Tisbury Great Pond, which when “full” is opened, and drained into the Atlantic Ocean. Until the late nineteen forties, Wishetwurra Farm was the upper part of the back pasture of the old West Farm. Clay, mostly gray kaolin clay, underlies this land.
The name “Wishetwurra” comes from Australia, and is an aboriginal term that means “the wistful but resigned feeling that comes when desires are expressed in a manner other than how they might have been”. So it was told to me, as they say. And I’m not telling who “they” is. (Nosuh.)
Because of the clay, there are damp and wet pockets throughout this side of Town. As this particular pasture reverted to forest, clethra, viburnums, blueberry, red maple, beetlebung (tupelo) and other moisture tolerant plants moved in. Blueberries particularly love this ground, and there are bushes up here that are a century old or more, contorted, gnarly and beautiful. Still yielding fruit. There is very little topsoil. What little soil there is is highly acid.
This “dirt” is a poor start for a garden. Here you will not find the feet, or even yards depth of midwestern topsoil. At Wishetwurra, garden soil must be made. That Making has been one of my occupations for the last forty years. Truckload after truckload of manure. Truckloads of sand. Years of cover crops, sown, grown, and tilled back in. Leaf rakings from the yard go to the garden. Ashes from the wood stove, and “biochar” from the Annual Brush Burning, find their way to this patch of dirt. In the last year alone, 24 pickup truck loads of manure, and over 16 loads of seaweed came to this garden. The soil is finally, over the last five years, taking on some power.
Because of crows, skunks, raccoons, feral turkeys and an overabundance of white-tailed deer, the garden has a perimeter fence. Nine feet tall, with chicken wire for the first two feet, and then deer net for the next seven feet, it keeps the critters, except for the crows, from sharing too heavily.
We’re just happier to share farm produce with our fellow two-leggers.