We are practicing regenerative agriculture on five acres. Regenerative agriculture is defined by practices of growing food which heal, restore, or regenerate, the vitality of the farm, the surrounding ecosystem, and the local community.
The Vegetable Garden
Our one-acre, bio-intensive organic vegetable garden is informed by the teachings of horticultural legend, Alan Chadwick, as outlined in the book How to Grow More Vegetables
. The bio-intensive approach maximizes yields and minimizes the exploitation of natural resources by focusing primarily on deep soil preparation, crop rotation, cover cropping and copious amounts of compost. In order to manage our large garden using these techniques, we depend heavily on one of the most important renewable sources of energy: the community!
Additionally, we have a passive solar hoop house which allows us to extend the growing season.
The Forest Garden
On the back acre, we recently planted a forest garden, or “food forest,” with over 50 trees and shrubs–from apples, peaches and plums to jujubes, paw paws and elderberries. Adapted from Dave Jacke’s definition in his book Edible Forest Gardens
, forest gardening is the art and science of putting plants together in woodland-like patterns that forge mutually beneficial relationships and create a resilient ecosystem that bears useful food, fiber and medicinals for humans.
In addition to the forest garden, we also have nearly 200 prolific blueberry bushes.
In nature, foraging animals graze across the land instead of staying in one place. In doing so, they are able to substantiate their diet with protein-rich insects and plants and use their hooves, snouts and beaks to stir up the microbial life in the soil, and their manure to replenish the soil with essential nutrients. At Anathoth, we try to mimic this pattern by using a “chicken tractor,” a chicken coop mounted on top of a trailer, to rotate our chickens across the pasture.
Bread is an important symbol for Christians, yet in a world with sliced bread, the church often fails to consider how the grain for our daily bread is grown, how it is prepared, or with whom it is shared around the supper table. At Anathoth, we use a brick, wood-fired oven to explore the sacramental nature of bread making, beyond the communion table, by growing some of the ingredients in the garden and baking the loaves together as a community. In doing so, we hope that bread may form us even more deeply into becoming the way of peace, the body of Christ.