Archive for the ‘Farming’ Category

The Wellness Garden by Shawna Coronado

Monday, January 15th, 2018

Gardening is excellent physical and spiritual activity. Most who garden, love it and need it, but what would you do if pain or restricted movement from a debilitating disease were forcing you to give up gardening and your garden? Shawna Coronado found herself in that situation when she was diagnosed with degenerative osteoarthritis. Shawna was already an established garden writer and well-known gardening spokesperson when she came close to giving up gardening with the onset of this painful and physically limiting disease. We became friends with Shawna years ago. She is a champion of urban gardening. When first she learned of her health problems she was sure her gardening carreer was over.

But Shawna did not give up her garden. She tells the story of how she significantly relieved her pain and restored useful movement without resorting to pain-killing drugs. Through a rehabilitation program that she developed through her own research and by consulting with health professionals, Shawna found natural ways to ease the pain and improve her physical strength so she could continue her work and her love for gardening. Along the way she learned how important good food is to good health.

But the The Wellness Garden is a lot more than just Shawna’s journey back to active gardening and an active lifestyle. The book is an excellent tutorial on how to do physical work in non-stressing ways.  It’s a beautiful journey through public and private gardens around the country, with gorgeous photographs often illustrating easy to care for garden techniques.  It is a primer for low-stress exercise that can keep all of us in the garden longer.  Gardens are therapeutic and Shawna shows how to make them accessible to those with pain or limited movement. And the book is a celebration of good food and the nurturing, healing, and restorative powers of the things we grow.

I truly enjoyed reading the The Wellness Garden and I highly recommend it to all gardeners and to all those who want to know more about food and wellness.

The Wellness Garden by Shawna Coronado.  $24.99 Cool Springs Press.  Available on Amazon.

Garden Bloggers Fling – Willowsford Farm

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Hi, everyone. Anneliese here. I’m back! Did you miss me? After four years away from CobraHead, I’ve returned to the family business, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

One of my resumed responsibilities is representing CobraHead at events like the Garden Bloggers Fling. Geoff and I attended the very first Fling in Austin, TX in 2008, and I continued attending every year until 2012. The garden bloggers who attend the Fling are invariably a wonderful group of people, and I’ve maintained friendships with many of them over the years even when I wasn’t working in the gardening world. After several years away, it was a privilege both to see many old friends and to make new friends with bloggers who’ve started attending Flings in my absence.

This year’s Fling was held in the Washington, D.C. metro region, and boy, was it a good time. Probably my favorite site of the entire Fling was the very first garden we visited, and it was really more of a farm than a garden. In fact, the place was called Willowsford Farm.

Willowsford Farm

Willowsford is a relatively new residential development not far from Dulles Airport in northern Virginia. They’re committed to keeping 2,000 acres of open space, and 300 of those acres are kept for the farm. Willowsford’s Director of Farm Operations, Mike Snow, graciously led us on a tour.

Mike Snow of Willowsford Farm

Our first stop on the tour was the farm stand. Mike explained that the food produced on the farm is available to consumers in a number of different ways. They operate a CSA with members picking up their weekly produce shares, but for those who would rather not commit to a CSA share, they can always stop at the farm stand for a la carte shopping.

Produce for sale at the Willowsford Farm Stand

The farm sells some of their produce to the Willowsford Kitchen, where it’s processed into various ready-to-eat goods and then also sold at the farm stand. Some of their items are brought in from other nearby producers.

The dairy cooler at Willowsford Farm Stand

Right next to the farm stand is the “you-pick” garden, where visitors can harvest their own fruits, veggies, and flowers.

Bloggers enjoying the “you-pick” garden at Willowsford Farm

Mike then took us to the production areas of the farm. Our first stop was a corral with a chicken coop and a pair of geese. The fencing was easily movable so the animal pen could be relocated every few weeks. This way the animals could naturally fertilize different areas over time.

Movable fencing for the chickens and geese

The farm had several acres under cultivation and produces a wide variety of crops. Here Mike is explaining the fabric row covers that are used for insect damage prevention on certain crops. If I recall correctly, these were radishes or perhaps cole crops.

Crops with row covers for pest prevention

I asked Mike if they started their own plants from seed, and the answer was yes, most of the time. The farm utilized several hoop houses for both seed starts and some greenhouse growing.

Covered crops, lettuces, and hoop houses in the background

I was really interested to see that one of the hoop houses was being used to grow ginger and turmeric. These aren’t crops that are commonly grown in Wisconsin, and it’s always fun to see some of the plants that can grow in different parts of the country.

Ginger and turmeric growing inside a hoop house


I truly enjoyed my visit to Willowsford Farm. They’re doing great work using both traditional and innovative food production methods, and it was a perfect reintroduction to the Garden Bloggers Fling.

Cucumber and squash trellis