Botsford, CT: Jurrasic Moss Community Garden
- Subject: [cg] Botsford, CT: Jurrasic Moss Community Garden
- From: Adam36055@aol.com
- Date: Fri, 21 May 2004 18:19:28 EDT
Sticks And Stones Farm Is Going To Expand Its Offerings With A Community Garden
By Shannon Hicks
Sticks and Stones Farm has been a working moss farm and masonry site for over two decades. Now owner Tim Currier wants to expand the farm's offerings by opening a community farm. He has started with 200 square feet of property, which has been plowed and has secure fencing to keep critters away from the pesticide-free food that will be grown in Jurassic Moss Community Garden.
When Tim Currier purchased part of the former massive Steinfeld property in Botsford 28 years ago, he took on the task of farming on land that had been owned by a family well known within the town's farming circles.
Today Mr Currier, who owns 60 of the former Steinfeld acres, is one of the largest moss farmers in the country. He cultivates - from spores, which is very rare ("Most people go into the woods and dig up their starter crops. We start from scratch," Mr Currier explained) - shade and sunny moss on his property in Newtown. His is the oldest propagate moss farm in the country. He also runs a farm in Hawaii that produces avocadoes, 75 fruit crops, and construction grade bamboo.
Stonework is also a major part of life at Sticks and Stones Farm, which is what Mr Currier has named his Newtown property. Mr Currier was responsible for the 1,200-pound granite base (and the hand carving on the base) that supports the eagle carving in front of Edmond Town Hall and, very recently, the bench that was placed next to Hawley Pond last summer. The stones for each of these projects came from a quarry at Sticks and Stones Farm.
Now he is ready to branch out even more, resurrecting a part of history to his 60-acre property. Mr Currier wants to begin a community garden in an area that was once home to Dave's Garden - also well known before Mr Currier moved into Newtown.
The new garden will be called Jurassic Moss Community Garden at Sticks and Stones Farm. It will be looked over by a large stone sculpture, The T-Rock, which can be seen by those driving along Huntingtown Road. The sculpture is the handiwork of Ethan Currier, Tim's son, and is situated near one of the farm's shade moss plots.
The driveway to Jurassic Moss Community Garden will be at 173 Huntingtown Road.
The 200 square feet that will make up the garden was cleared out a few years ago. That was when Mr Currier began clearing out invasive rose bushes that had completely taken over.
"That had to be done without disturbing the soil because much of this is also wetlands," Mr Currier said, pointing to an area between where the community garden will be located and part of his shade moss plantings are already set up. "That was a lot of labor, and it all had to be done with tremendous care."
When he began to seriously approach the idea of his community garden this year, the first thing Mr Currier did was install 900 feet of fencing. There is metal fencing buried six feet down, and fence posts with netting rising up another seven feet
"That fence was one of the first things we had to do," Mr Currier said last week. "That's to prevent groundhogs. Otherwise all of the work will be a waste of time."
The new garden will be an extension of the farming that is already done at Sticks and Stones Farm. Mr Currier plans to make gardening available to anyone interested, and as easy as possible for beginners.
In addition to the fenced-in area, Mr Currier will have a rototiller available for gardeners at all times, irrigation will be available, and there will be an ample supply of cow manure and hay.
Mr Currier also plans to have help available for gardeners when they go away on vacation. Someone will be available to pick food as it ripens and to water plants if gardeners need to go out of town.
Because many gardeners often end up with more food than they can eat, there will also be a stand set up for those who wish to sell some of their extra harvest.
There is only one rule for Jurassic Moss: No pesticides.
"Everything is going to be grown with that in mind," Mr Currier said. "It's going to be all organic. We are not going to be using any chemicals."
The land is already zoned and taxed as farmland, so the community garden will just be an extension of the work that is already taking place at Sticks and Stones Farm. The land should do well for gardening. It has been given plenty of rest since the time of Dave's Garden nearly three decades ago, and it is "true bottom land," says Mr Currier.
"There is water below the surface, and this is all soil that has washed off the mountain," he said.
Gardeners can rent their land at $1 per square foot.
"I'm not in this for the money, obviously. No one's going to make money at this," said Mr Currier.
"I've been planning on doing something like this for a long time," Mr Currier said last week, taking a break from the work he and two others were doing to prepare the land for its future use. The final sections of fence were going up on Thursday, and space was being cleared for an area where gardeners will be invited to rest after working.
"I think people have to start to learn where their food comes from," said Mr Currier. "I'm trying to have everyone have the experience of being a farmer. This will be an educational experience, that's for sure."
Mr Currier admits it may take a few years for the idea of Jurassic Moss Community Garden to catch on, and this year the planting will be getting started a little late in the season, but he's ready to welcome people onto his land who want to give gardening a try.
"I'm inspired by what's happening in other communities," Mr Currier said. "People should have options when it comes to their food choices, which we don't have much of here. Living here, people can get lazy about their food sources."
For anyone who has never been to Sticks and Stones Farm, be prepared for inspiration. Mr Currier's son is a stone sculptor whose works can be seen around the grounds, and two of Mr Currier's tenants are artists. Tarol Samuelson is a painter and graphic artist whose work is currently being featured in a solo show at Bethel Art Junction, and her neighbor is the singer Scarlett Lee Moore. Dogs, cats, and ducks have the run of the property, which is also home to countless hiking trails and a few cabins built from natural materials found on the property.
Mr Currier says he felt something tugging at him the first time he looked at the land and spent time with Mr Steinfeld.
"Dave Steinfeld was a real known person back when I bought this land. He became a mentor to me, which I don't know if he ever realized," said Mr Currier. "I think people would like to know that we're doing this, and that we're still honoring him here at the farm.
"I think he'd be happy to knew we're resurrecting the garden on this area."
Interested in joining the first year at Jurassic Moss Community Farm? Mr Currier can be reached by calling 270-8820.