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CRAFT Field Day on Permaculture and Diversity at King’s Hill Farm

On Saturday May 19th the first CRAFT Field Day of the season took place at King’s Hill Farm. Hosts Joel and Jai Kellum gave a thorough introduction to permaculture activities taking place on their farm to a large group of CRAFT interns, Stateline Farm Beginnings students and other CRAFT member farms: Freedom Organix, Radical Root Farm and Tempel Farms Organics

King’s Hill Farm, located outside of Mineral Point, WI, is situated on 830 acres of rolling hills and fertile fields. With 10 years of experience in organic produce farming, the Kellums have rejuvenated the land and had 4 successful produce seasons. With 20 acres in vegetable production, 10 acres in perennials, free-range chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys and pigs, they operate a 400-member CSA and vend at two Chicago farmers markets.

Highlights of Saturday’s farm tour included the newest perennial planting that Joel and crew are installing this season: bare-root transplants of native shrubs, nut trees, blueberries, fruit trees, pine trees, and osage in rows, using both plastic and corn/bean/hay mulch. Designed with 70% human consumption in mind, the wildlife is also taken into consideration through the creation of these “food forests,” thus lowering the pressure on more tender crops from birds and mammals.

We walked through a more-established, four-year-old food forest of roses, quince, horseradish, comfrey, magnolias, currants, lilac, gooseberries, raspberries, filberts, apricots, plum, peaches and strawberries, and found bees and birds’ nests throughout the vibrant rows, easily maintained through minimal clipping and mowing due to strategic contour patterns and established ground covers. Farm members and the public are enticed by the variety of crops available for U-pick at the farm.

The Kellums also explained the advantages of developing permaculture “edge zones” along the periphery of their production areas. These plantings establish food sources for wildlife—encouraging them into patterns of movement that keep them far away from the farmer’s planting zone. These “habitat lines” consisted of willow, hawthorns, pawpaw, serviceberries, chestnuts, arborvitaes and other varieties.

Other highlights of the afternoon were the perennial bulb garden, Joel’s experimental cover cropping system that incorporates forage for ducks, chickens and pigs, the shiitake mushroom production, newly designed and constructed chicken coops, and the GAP-certified packing shed. Thanks to everyone who joined us at the Kellum's!

If you're a farmer or interested in farming and would like to attend future CRAFT Field Days this season, click here to learn more about the CRAFT Network and become a member!