Farm Location, Soil Classification, & History
Our 182 acre Northwest Maury County farm is located southwest ~55 minutes from the state capital building along the fertile leipers creek valley, just 10 minutes beyond Leipers Fork, in the Bethel Community. Our Farm's land has been placed in a permanent conservation easement with the Land Trust for Tennessee and will forever be available as farmland, protected from sprawling development.
Our land is found in the physiographic region of the Highland Rim and consists of rolling timbered hills, ridge balds, and a fertile valley. The valley soils' phase association is historically one of the most fertile and productive of the county, and consists of silt loams and silty clay loams that offer an optimum medium for agricultural purposes.
Arugula's Star Farm is a small farm with a large work ethic of expanding hopes and ideals. Owned by Mr. Lannie Neal (Matthew's Dad), & Matthew and Allison Mills Neal, and farmed by Matthew and Allison.
Brief History of Arugula's Star Farm from current year 2017 to 2007
2017 In 2017, after a long dormancy, we are up and growing again. Our farm is offering an original Hands On Farm Visit Community Shared Agriculture [CSA] called Shared Agriculture Program [SAP]. We are also selling our Genuine SeedtoGather Seal TM Vegetables through Nashville Grown to many Nashville Restaurants. In the late summer, we plan on starting to offer Genuine "out in the open" Farm Dinners...a revisited idea that continues to resurface, so perhaps it is time!
2016,2015,2014 In these years, our first son Eastenn Dutch was born. He grew, vegetables grew, nature inspired, we worked, played, and learned what it meant to be a family. We started tipping our fingers, toes, and hearts into Biodynamics, and so did the land.
2014 New Year’s Two Folded Announcement from ASF…
After endless consideration and thought, I finally have reached somewhat of a clear acceptance of what I call the Two Folded Announcement.
First off, Matthew and I are expecting a child for the first time in our lives…I am pregnant and this has been a different world for me to say the least! We of course are thrilled, but this factor has caused me to have to reevaluate the whole 2014 growing season for Arugula’s Star Farm.
For the last couple of weeks, I have tried to continue to plow along forward assuming that I could fully operate and achieve the 2014 season that I had laid out for our farm. Within this time, I have come to realize by myself and by listening to advice from family, friends, and midwife, that I as the farm’s agricultural head operator, planner, planter & harvester, manual worker, and task manager cannot pass all of my many and consuming roles onto a new group of live-on interns that were to be selected this late winter. Moreover, I cannot hold the very important responsibility on my end, as your farmer, of keeping a functional CSA moving and thriving throughout a year’s growing season. There is always more responsibility and absolute timing necessity that goes into operating a CSA, that shareholders are going to love and be pleased with, than there is with just farming crops for people to buy at the market or on-farm. As one can imagine, there is a lot to live-up to and stand behind when someone invests up-front currency in a farm to provide them with genuine organically grown veggies and summer fruits for 9 months out of the year. Since I was looking so very forward to this new and exciting CSA season and because I have already put quite a bit of energy into the planning of the 2014 growing season, these realities have taken a while to settle in with me.
I do apologize to announce the second part of the two folds, but here it is…Arugula’s Star Farm will not be offering the Unique CSA that has been announced and advertised for the 2014 season.
As being with child is a new territory of grounds for me altogether, I cannot really fathom or predict what I can or cannot achieve and this is why it makes it difficult to set any plan. Therefore, that is why all agricultural plans that involve customers will be closed for the time being, and will be passed on to the 2015 growing season. I personally will strive to continue to follow our farm’s ethic of being a Genuine Agrarian Ecosystem of Subsistence, as this is a necessity for our existence.
The Stockholder Garlic Shares that have been purchased are of course still viable and this offering has not changed. In fact, we still have Stockholder Garlic Shares available for purchase. Anyone can purchase by sending me an e-mail telling me you would like to purchase a garlic share.
I do apologize for any inconvenience that this two-folded announcement has made if you had planned on signing up to be a 2014 CSA shareholder member.
Thanks and Cheers to the New Year
2013 In 2013 we were abiding to the subsistent farmer protocol. We were still working on the old Fox farmhouse restoration project and being the Genuine Agrarian Ecosystem of Subsistence that we strive to be. I feel that if one is not putting out larger quantities of pesticide/herbicide free genuine produce as a betterment for the over all good of society. Then we as stewards of the farm, still must strive to have the least amount of negative impact on the living ecosystem that we all rely on. The least we can pull from these modern day energy conveniences; we then have a closer understanding and connection to what it means to exist as part of nature, as opposed to just a user of all the wonderful necessities that the earth's ecosystem gives, that often are taken for granted. And yes, I know we all still benefit and use natural resources no matter how hard we strive not to, as for example we still use electricity even though we consciously use as little as we absolutely have to. The main point in all of this is the notion of looking at every act and decision with what Matthew likes to call the arm and hand scale...you hold out your arms and weigh out with your hands which act has the least amount of negative impact on the innocence of nature. It is because of this scale that we choose to do things ourselves and moreover the long road around, as to avoid tipping the scale the wrong direction. When the long road around is chosen, projects always have more of an outward appearance of moving along like a snail on a turtle's back, hence the contrary though as so much time goes into the alternative ideas, planning, protocol, and custom manual works.
Hopefully by putting the focus one more year on our closed functional system, I will be able to put more of my human energy in 2014 back into being a larger (but still small-scale, not commercial) Genuine Produce and Seed Farm. Then allowing yet again, others to have a relationship with Arugula's Star Farm by either good ole actions of eating, working, learning, or dinner gatherings. I want to be able to take what I have learned over the last years in the fields and be able to reapply them to a larger, but still fairly manual, Ecological Economic Genuine Profiting Farm.
2012 & 2011 After we made it through the 2010 year, by offering our organic vegetables by sell through our on-line market. We decided to take a step back in 2011 and 2012 and revert to a small subsistent farm that kept up all our ethics and practices, but only offered On-farm pick-ups to a handful of local customers. For those two years, I was still growing organic vegetables and cover crops and doing trials and studies on them. We also had drawn out plans for a long term perennial tree and hedge system of borders that would benefit the existing ecosystem here at the farm and that was successfully completed by the end of 2012. In this execution of perennial plantings we added 432 trees and hedges to the farm.We rarely, if never actually, bought any vegetables from anyone else as this is part of what it meant for us to be a subsistence farm, nor did we ever eat out. I still held onto the notion of the Windfall Agrarian Initiative, but all at the same time with the farm being just Matthew and I physically doing all the tasks that add up in a days time of existing as a Genuine Agrarian Ecosystem of Subsistence, and not to mention the working improvement projects of structure and system we had been working on, the Windfall Agrarian Initiative was officially closed at the start of 2013, as were just not at a point yet to be able to give it the sufficient time it needed to be set up. This does not mean that it failed or could not work, and this doesn't mean that we do not for see this happening in the future. All it meant for us was a realization that we put the plow before the tractor as we just did not have the power or sufficient set-up of organization to complete the for seen field at hand quite yet. For me, systems like the Windfall Agrarian Initiative need to be the true vitality for the future and quite simple spoken, if these systems cannot be set up then what hope do we have in a local, genuinely organic, availability of food for generations to come?
We foresaw ourselves helping to create a stronger force that could establish and accomplish the following goals for the current and future generations of the Leipers Creek valley and all other hill-top and hollow-bottoms of the middle TN area:
- Complete Organic Farm Systems that generate locally available, nutritionally dense food
- Educational outreach on topics of organic foods, organic agriculture, functional and structural sustaining ecosystems, & land conservation and stewardship
- Hands-on Agrarian Intern Programs: opportunities for the younger folk to live, work, and learn on one of the complete organic farming systems
- The Sharecroppers Exchange: young farmers, given the opportunity to live along with and work another’s land, in exchange for accessibility to a land, a share of the crop, and genuine organic farming experience. Empowering one to work hard in the heat and cold to nurture the crops along that are going to help feed us all.
Also, in the winter of 2009 we planted 55 different varieties of fruit trees mainly consisting of heirloom organic apple, with some pear, fig, and peach. We started blueberry bushes, and a grove of cane berry plants like blackberry, raspberry, and gooseberry, and on top of all of that strawberries too.
We were selected to be one of the host farms in 2009 for Outstanding in the Field on September the 13th. Martha Stamps was the selected chef and my what a wonderful feast this on-farm dinner turned out to be!
Our most exciting additions in 2009 were the heritage breed chickens and the moveable chicken coop built by Matthew.
2008 In 2008, we continued to grow as we offered 40 CSA member shares, sold to the Franklin Farmer's Market, Whole Foods Market in Green Hills, The Turnip Truck Market in East Nashville, and to an organization started by Sean Siple called Farm to Chef/Locally Grown. This was a very busy year for us. We really were pulling out the late night lantern quite often. We were going every which direction all the time at full force speeds ahead...whew. This year was our first year of opening our farm to workers and interns. We really had some great committed eager people that wanted to get their hands in the dirt and work hard.
2007The farm had mainly been a sustenance farm for about eight years, until in 2007 when we had our first largest production for market sales. For the 2007 season, we consistently sold our organic produce at The Franklin Farmer's Market and to Margot cafe and bar.