|Leaf Myczack at Broadened Horizons Organic Farm|
Leaf Myczack's hands are those of a farmer. Not one who spends most of his time in the air conditioned cab of an oversized tractor. But one who needs no gloves to pick a small patch of fresh strawberries. One who crafts many of his own custom tools for small-scale farming. One who appreciates the sensory experience of fresh earth that crumbles between your fingers.
|Christmas Lima Beans|
I asked Myczack to show me a handful of the heirloom beans that he saves and grows each year on his family's East Tennessee farm. The Christmas Lima beans are one of many varieties that he plants, to eat and to share seeds for someone else's garden. "We've always kept our own seed," Myczack explained. Some seeds came from a friend in Southwest Virginia, another from a friend's family in Northern Alabama. The tradition of saving, exchanging and replanting seeds goes back thousands of years.
All of the seeds and plants on Broadened Horizons Organic Farm
are heirloom varieties, grown to standards Myczack and wife Ceilo Sand Hodson think go beyond those of the USDA Organic program. As their family farm's website beautifully articulates, they believe in using sustainable growing methods.
|Broadened Horizons Indigo Peace Beans|
Keenly attune to how plants grow, Myczack says it can take more than one season for a swapped seed to adapt to soil in another area. He believes the role of a farmer is to work with the soil, wind and rain to discover how a plant grows best. For best results in this year's garden, he recommends planting seeds from regional sources that have already adapted to nearby soils and other growing conditions.
|Open Pollinated Cross between |
Neals Paymaster and Blue Clarage Corn
Christmas Lima Beans in Jar
The farm is currently sold out of the popular Ohio Blue Clarage corn that it's been preserving. The corn was developed in farms along Northern Appalachia in the mid-1800s. It makes cornmeal for humans as well as livestock food. It is popular for resisting overcrowding and corn smut. The farm is experimenting with an open pollinated cross between Blue Clarage corn, and a Tennessee red cob corn called Neals Paymaster. Experimentation here is conducted naturally in the field, not in a laboratory. The farm is proud to offer all non-hybrid and non-GMO
has used small tillers to ready a field for more corn, but is waiting for rain before planting a new crop. These keepers of heirloom varieties are especially protective. "Once this is in the ground you're committed," said Myczack, "If it doesn't come up that's the end of that seed line."
Tomorrow: concerns about water...