In Class News

August 28, 2018 at 8:13 pm

Branching Out: Flowers and Herbs at OHIO Student Farm

Julie Scott's flower garden in bloom at the OHIO Student Farm.

Julie Scott’s flower garden in bloom at the OHIO Student Farm.

By Julie Anna Scott
Bachelor of Specialized Studies in Sustainable Agriculture and Herbalism

Just off of West State Street, down a windy gravel road, there lies an abundant garden laden with squash, tomatoes and the usual crops one might find at any good farm. But this year, something new has sprung forth.

There are colossal nasturtium blooms, other-worldly passionflowers, and a range of aromatic, colorful plants that have claimed this space as their own. This is my flower garden.

Prior to transferring to Ohio University, I had always thought my carer would be based in urban agriculture. Growing up in Washington, D.C., it had never occurred to me that I might prefer a more spacious, rural setting to farm, over my cramped community garden plot or the sun-scorched rooftop garden that my high school offered. I assumed the future of food production would inevitably include hydroponics, vertical farming and all the latest technology available. But, after visiting Athens and helping with my uncle’s small farm at Bodhi Tree Guesthouse & Studio, I felt the pull of a more “rural” agriculture. The rich local food scene here in Southeastern Ohio captivated me—and so, I moved here!

My first summer living in Athens, I began a Food Studies internship with Art Trese at the OHIO Student Farm. Working with my hands, watching plants unfurl from the earth and then be eaten and enjoyed by the people in this community filled me with me great joy. So, with a strong sense of purpose, I continued to help at the farm for another four semesters and began to pursue a Bachelor of Specialized Studies in Sustainable Agriculture and Herbalism.

Starting early this spring, with the ground still frozen and the birds just beginning to sing, I began to cultivate a medicinal (and largely edible) flower garden. It was to become the grand entrance leading up to the university’s farm. I mulched out two spiral pathways, emulating the design of an antique McArthur Brick Plant brick; and then, with a kind donation from Kyle Lyons and lumber from Haulin’ Hoof Farm, we installed a black locust and bamboo fence to protect all the precious—but vulnerable—flowers.

Two spiral pathways, emulating the design of an antique McArthur Brick Plant brick.

Two spiral pathways, emulating the design of an antique McArthur Brick Plant brick.

With the main outline set in place, I began to slowly sow the seeds that would, in turn, bear great gifts. First, planting borage, echinacea, lemon balm and lemongrass by seed; and then, as the weather warmed slightly, I transplanted an array of flowers that had been nestled in the greenhouse for warmth and safekeeping. In went the calendula, lavender, passionflower, nasturtiums, paracress and on and on, brimming with as many spices as I could fit in the space.

This garden has not only beautified and welcomed various pollinators to the farm, it has also served as medicine and food for the community (even if only on a small scale). The Kitchen at Devil’s Kettle has received a steady flow of herbs, flowers and produce from the OHIO Student Farm, ranging from sage blossoms, nasturtium greens and chamomile to tomatoes, elephant garlic and beets. Further, the flowers and herbs in my garden have been transformed into healing salves, oils, pestos, tinctures and teas throughout the season—although, it has barley made a dent! Ultimately, I plan to expand further as an organic flower and herb farmer. I would like to produce cut stem flowers for celebrations, medical plants for herbalists, and edible flowers and herbs for local chefs and restaurants.

One seed at a time, I will make it there.

Food studies graphic, with outlines of eggplant, tomato, corn, etc.

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