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Blogs from the FARM: Journey through the Realm of Sustainable Agriculture
Written by Lexie Norris, 2023 FARM Intern at McMullen Homestead and Tumbling Creek

Recently, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to work closely with Tom McMullen on his personal homestead, a hidden gem nestled in the picturesque landscape of Appalachia. Engaging in this enriching collaboration, we have embarked on a journey to cultivate the land and explore the intricate world of farming together. Throughout our time together, Tom has been a mentor and guide, generously sharing his wisdom and expertise as we delve into the realm of small-scale organic farming.

Our shared experiences on the homestead have revolved around honing fundamental farming skills, with a particular focus on planting, weeding, and preparing the fertile ground. Each day, we embark on the noble task of sowing seeds, carefully selecting the most suitable varieties for the region’s unique climate and soil conditions. Tom’s deep knowledge of the land has proven invaluable, as he imparts wisdom gained from years of tending to these same fields. Together, we have grappled with the challenges of nurturing delicate seedlings, defending them from the persistent threat of invasive weeds. Tom’s meticulous approach to weeding has taught me the importance of meticulousness and patience, as we painstakingly remove any encroaching plants that could hinder the growth of our cherished crops. Through his careful guidance, I have come to appreciate the delicate balance between fostering plant growth and maintaining a harmonious ecosystem on the homestead.

Moreover, Tom has graciously opened the doors to his wealth of knowledge regarding the unique demands and rewards of small organic farming in Appalachia. He has shared invaluable insights on sustainable practices, pest control strategies, and the essential role of crop rotation. His dedication to preserving the natural beauty and integrity of the land serves as a constant reminder of the responsibility we bear as custodians of this precious earth.

As I continue to learn under Tom’s mentorship, I have come to realize that being a small organic farmer in Appalachia entails more than just cultivating crops—it is a way of life. It requires a deep respect for the land, an unwavering commitment to sustainability, and a profound understanding of the interconnectedness of nature. Through our collaboration, Tom has kindled in me a passion for this vocation, igniting a desire to contribute to the preservation of traditional farming practices in this bountiful region.

In conclusion, my time spent with Tom McMullen on his personal homestead has been nothing short of transformative. The invaluable lessons and experiences we have shared together have not only deepened my understanding of farming but have also instilled in me a profound appreciation for the rich tapestry of nature and the delicate balance required to thrive as a small organic farmer in Appalachia. I am grateful for the wisdom and guidance Tom has imparted, and I eagerly anticipate the continued growth of both our crops and our shared journey in the realm of sustainable agriculture.


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