Friday, April 24, 2015

cob Cob COB!!! (Arkansas Garden Corps)

April has been a great month for our cob building project. Arkansas Garden Corps planned to have a gathering of current service members. These service members are serving at garden projects all across the state, so of course they wanted to get their hands dirty with CMAP. Since they all probably pull weeds daily, we decided to offer some more novel tasks: COB BUILDING.

We were so excited to build cob with the ARGC service members that we rushed the completion of our first stem wall. Tristan worked from 8am to 10:30pm and is now an expert stone mason.

Finally we got to slap on our first mix of cob!

ARGC Service Members mixing clay, sand and straw to make cob

Building up our first layer of cob
A big thank you goes out to all the ARGC service members! You did some awesome work on your visit to CMAP that will carry on through the ages.
If you would like to play in the mud and build a long lasting, sustainable structure at the same time, just contact us! Bring anybody you want. Kids will love it! Bring your grandparents! Bring your boss! There is something everyone can do to contribute to this fun and worthwhile work!

If you are interested in serving with ARGC or getting a service member for your garden project, it is a great program that I highly recommend. Their website is here.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

New Chicken Yard

We moved the fences of the chicken yard so we could have our garden beds back. They have spent all winter fertilizing the beds with their manure. This photo shows the chickens hesitantly approaching the new yard full of fresh green grass!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Bring CMAP to Your School (or take a real Field Trip!)

A couple of weeks ago Tristan and Doug went to Atkins middles school to do some activities with the students in the GATE program. They talked about different kinds of root structures of some of our favorite vegetables like turnips and romaine lettuce. They also led the students in a soil test, shaking a solutions of soil, water, and salt and watching the different elements of soil settle out. Sand settles first, then silt, and finally clay. This kind of test is useful especially for our cob building project. It allows us to look at how much clay and sand (essential for making cob) is in the soil up here at Camp Mitchell. Luckily we are finding some pretty good clay.

If you know of any class K-12 that needs a field trip, put them in contact with us at We've even had a field day with college classes. We can prepare activities and discussions focusing on any of the following topics: gardening, ecology, soil structure, pollination, use of local resources, sustainability, plant nutrients, bee keeping, poultry, integrated farming, nature/spirituality, and just about anything else you can think of!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Hiller-tiller in Action

Friday the soil dried up a bit, meaning we were finally able to implement our new rotary tiller. It's called the King kutter and coupled with a home-made end piece I call it the hiller-tiller. With it we can till the garden and make nice looking beds in one afternoon, saving us a full week of back straining work. 

The garden is almost ready for the transplanting workshop! All we have left to do is install some irrigation and mulch and we'll be ready to go! Look forward to seeing you this weekend!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Crowded in the Greenhouse

We have so many seedlings! Onions, leeks, spinach, turnips, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and more. They are going to be at the perfect stage for transplanting out during our transplanting workshop next week. Hope to see lots of you here, March 27th and 28th. Lend a hand transplanting. Learn about transplanting techniques.

We are waiting on the ground to dry up so we can use our new rotary tiller to prepare our beds. If it continues to rain we'll have to start making rows by hand just to get a few things like our spinach and some snapdragons out of our green house.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Cob Garden Shed: Part 1 - Foundational Experiments

So we are gearing up to build a cob structure behind our greenhouse that will serve as a garden shed so that we can move all of our tools, fertilizers, and chicken feed out of the greenhouse and put them in proper storage.

We tried to dig a trench last year to fill with drainage rock and gravel for a foundation, but hit the camp's main water line and, well, you know the rest. Water fifteen feet in the air. Zero water pressure for all of Camp Mitchell. Luckily our maintenance guy is a real pro. He was out and had it fixed in under an hour.

So we had to move our site and start digging all over. More carefully this time. So far so good. We dug the trench without hitting any lines and filled it with stones. Instead of buy proper gravel we collected sandstone rocks from the woods and busted them with a sledge hammer until they were the proper size. This improvisation may cost us, but it may work out just fine. I'm betting on the latter. Anyway we put topped it off with some SB2 gravel and cement to keep the run-off from flowing into our trench.

Cob is made of sand, clay, and straw. We are testing out the clay and straw we have been able to find so far to see if the materials are of proper quality.

Above is our first cob test brick. It is made of some clay soil we found near our garden. Straw. No sand. We'll add proper sand to another test brick later.

If you know of anywhere we can find clay near Morrilton or Petit Jean let us know!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Winter Star Rockers

Last week's snow melted so all our winter star campers made it up to Camp. 

The campers rolled up their sleeves to sow seeds in the green house: green and red cabbage, Chinese cabbage, chives, turnips, and birdhouse gourds. 

After sowing these fierce youth of the Episcopal Church set to work on our cob tool shed. We collected stones from the woods and packed them into our foundation trench. If any of the stones were too big, the kids busted them up with a sledge hammer.

These kids rock! My favorite quotes of wisdom from them this weekend are: "I like working out here. It makes me feel different." And "I always like working on the farm because I know what I'm doing is going toward something." I always worry that getting kids to collect rocks will seem like cheap labor, but then I see how they enjoy being useful ... And who doesn't feel a good after busting a few boulders up with a sledge hammer?!

Peace be with you Winter Star Rockers!

Doug Knight 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Seedlings Staying Warm

Today we are watching the snow melt at the green house where our seedling are warm and toasty. Join us for a transplanon March 27 and you will get to help us transplant them out. Right now we are planning our farm activities for our youth Winter star camp coming up this weekend. Bring some gloves!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

All Grown Up

Well folks, I guess this blog makes us official. We will be using this site for official farm updates and business AND for communicating with our CSA shareholders! 

That's right, our latest endeavor is a Community Support Agriculture (CSA) project. We will have 5-7 local shareholders who will financially invest in our project and receive a basket of fresh produce each week from the end of April through November. Don't worry, we will still be sending produce to Chef Adam in our kitchen for YOUR enjoyment!

In our last update in August, we had just finished summer camp and were getting ready for fall and for the arrival of Tristan Odekirk, our GardenCorps service member.

Tristan has been a tremendous asset so far. He's brought energy and vision and perhaps most importantly, Settlers of Catan. After a long day's work, we refuel and keep our coconuts on point through a stimulating game of strategy and economics.

With Tristan's help we were able to put in our Fall Garden despite being very pregnant! Everything looked great, 

but unfortunately we were too late in the season for our cabbages to head. We did, however, get a good crop of kale, radishes, bok choy, komatsuna, arugula, mustard, and lettuce!

Ironically, we might have sowed our wheat and barley too soon, at least for this particular year. It stayed so warm through December and January that we're afraid our wheat and barley skipped the slow-growing winter hibernation and tried to put out grain, then Father Winter came out with a big ol, "Psych!" and we were left with dying grain. But Spring always has tricks under its sleeve so we aren't plowing over them just yet.

I want to take a second to pat our backs over our first annual Harvest Celebration fundraising event that we held last fall. Over 75 people came to check out our farm, stir the pumpkin butter, milk Frank's goat, and share a community meal sourced from our farm. We raised over $2000 for CMAP and hope to make this an annual tradition.

Pumpkin butter cooked in a copper kettle over an open fire!

Hayride around the farm property.


We started our first seeds last week: red and green cabbage, red and green kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and lots of snap dragons (flowers)!

Other plans for the Spring Garden include: radishes, beets, lettuce, bok choy, mustard, arugula, Chinese cabbage, and I'm sure there's more.

YOU can help us this Spring by coming to our first ever Farm Retreat! We will be focusing on transplanting. We hope our starts will be ready for the big wild world and we can get our hands in the dirt. We will also spend some time exploring what transplanting looks like in our lives outside of the garden. The retreat will be March 27 (5pm)-March 28 (3pm). For more information, check out this flyer or our Facebook page.

Follow us to stay updated with the Camp Mitchell Agricultural Project, we hope to give more frequent updates about what we doing and how you can be a part of it!

Grow in Peace!

the CMAP farmers.