Virtual farm tour - see where your food is grown!

Morning View, KY

As a farmer, one of my secret missions in life is to connect you with the land where your food is grown. But life is busy and you might not make it to a Mustard Seed Farm potluck 40 minutes away from Cincinnati. So let me (Farmer Marykate) take you on a little virtual tour of one of our three growing sites!

In these pictures from summer you can see big blocks of corn, squash, and cover crops that nourished the soil after we harvested a HUGE crop of garlic in July. You can also see the patchy, but tall, bushy rows of Elderberries and the smaller rows of grafted Pawpaw trees.

The Backstory

In 2019 the Boehne family graciously agreed to let me grow on their land with a year-to-year land use agreement.

I thought I'd grow on several acres here, but in the spring of 2019 the field was substantially flooded. In 2020, it flooded twice as high as the year before. With the crops under 6ft of water for 3 days I realized I could only grow on a little less than 1/2 acre of this land that might stay above water. In June of that year, it flooded again to the amazement of neighbors who had described the area as having a "20 year flood cycle". Unpredictable weather seems to have become the norm.

Growing Intensively, Building Soil Health

Since 2019, we've increased the soil organic matter in this little plot of high ground from 2% to 6.5% organic matter through cover cropping, mulching, applying compost and vermicompost extract. It's a slow and beautiful process seeing compacted clay become more aerated and alive with fungi and microbes - giving rise to bigger healthier crops.

Giant ginger, purple corn, fairytale pumpkins, installing a bird nesting box, sunset over garlic and elderflowers, summer crops betweens young pawpaw trees

Birds, Coyotes, Deer, Rabbits, the Milky Way

While I'm working in this field, I have the privilege of watching Red-tailed Hawks and Bald Eagles hunting. I try to learn bird calls of Eastern Towhee, Indigo Bunting, or the otherworldly babble of American Woodcock. Sweaty July nights I've been covered in dirt, pushing garlic harvest into the last light of dusk and fumbling on into the light of the full moon. I'm disheveled and sweltering, but the ethereal lights of fireflies - such regal visitors - awe me into stillness. Late at night watching the milky way pour across the sky, I've heard the yipping of coyote pups. As the seasons change, I've heard them grow up, their bigger voices filling out the coyote choir.

Bird skull and fallen leaves, the creek flooding up into the lower field

It's these connections that I hold in my heart when I make any decisions that would impact soil health or water downstream. When I pay close attention to soil moisture before cultivation to avoid compaction, it's with the knowledge that my life and livelihood are bound together in a covenant with all the other beautiful critters of this place. Reciprocity teaches us that the gifts of the earth are given around and around. We are required to give back in that cycle throughout our lives and ultimately return our body to it at the end of our lives. There's a deep sense of gift inherent in this. It relocates what we’re often taught to think of as ownership away from an individual and onto the larger whole.

Sunset and Moonrise at the farm

If you've read this far, I hope you've caught a glimpse of how special this place is (as are all places on this planet when we look closely). When you taste our produce, may you feel more and and more connected to this beautiful Ohio River Valley.

-Farmer Marykate

(Stay tuned for Farmer Lindsey's virtual email tour of another of our growing sites in the coming months!)

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