PLENTY SUMMER 2020 | Page 19

Each day, we make an effort to continue progress to invest in our new home, dig into our small-scale farm, and build our landscape architecture business. Some days we are able to get more accomplished than others. The first and most critical project was to create private space for Allison’s mother so she too could feel at home after her move from outside New York City to the agricultural reserve. A second project followed on its heels: to decorate the baby’s nursery while still allowing space for Bobby to run the landscape architecture practice from home. We imagine it is this way for all of you too: the project list is longer than there is time or money. But, it is home. We met starting and building a community garden at the University of Maryland in College Park. So, it is no surprise that our favorite time together is outside, playing in the dirt. Our farmstead is a perfect compromise of Bobby’s desire for a wooded lot to put into practice permaculture design and forest gardening and Allison’s love of open, sunny space for growing vegetables. The site is split down the middle with three acres wooded and three acres pasture and homesite. Before we moved in ourselves, we converted the existing horse barn to house our chicks, who were quickly outgrowing their home in our garage, and urban chickens from our backyard in the rental house. We also got started on a vegetable garden that would go on to feed all the neighborhood deer because the plants went in before any fencing. Our second season vegetable garden was an improvement from the first with the addition of elec- Bluebird Farmstead Values Here are some key tips of how we are creating an ecologically focused farmstead that provides meaningfully for our family across many dimensions. k Make room for wildlife habitat. The forest behind our home is a never ending source of exploration, learning and wonder. Downed limbs and small trees provide food for woodpeckers. We love watching the unfurling of the ferns to let us know that spring has arrived. We reference Sibley Field Guide to Birds regularly. k Plant native plants. Our favorites include: Asclepias tuberosa for monarch habitat, Andropogon virginicus for bird nesting materials, Ilex verticillata for a winter food source. A great resource is Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping. k Grow food. Feed your soil with compost, cover crops and crop rotations and find crops that will bring you joy to both grow and eat. Our favorites include arugula, ground cherries, hard-neck garlic, spice peppers, and tatsoi. It is so much fun to grow food that you can’t find at the store and varieties that have a unique history. k Keep chickens or make friends with someone who does. Our chickens are a great source of food, entertainment, and endless problem-solving. We love to have our own eggs to eat and share with others. There is no better thank-you for a neighborly favor than a dozen fresh eggs in a rainbow of colors. Our chickens and ducks lay light brown, dark brown, blue, green, and white eggs. We have knowingly encouraged at least four other families to take the leap into chicken keeping. plenty I summer growing 2020 19