Oct 10, 2016Farmer Support, Meet My Farmer

Nestled into a modest, metropolitan neighborhood, just a hop skip from Lake Olmstead and the Augusta National Golf Club, Bottle Tree Farm is our city’s most adorable urban farm.

Upon arrival, the aesthetic charm of Bottle Tree Farm unfolds in tiny tidbits of romantic detail. Notice the way the gentle back slope of .43 acres has been divided into three farm tiers, from raised beds for veggies to a river bend for ducks. How about that old peach tree that has been pruned to perfection, providing a focal point with both cultural significance and dappled shade. Gotta love those dwarf apple trees, espaliered on the front side of the house. And how about those reclaimed windows used for trellising, positioned so strategically to the sun.

The artsy-craftsy appeal that is the farm’s genius is led by homesteader Candace Zukas, with help from her equally-handy husband, Nate, of Zukas Cyles. Clearly this is a couple with no limits when it comes to matters of the eye. But we would be remiss to suggest that this farm stops at cute. At its heart, Bottle Tree Farm is also a serious model for modern homesteading in the South. Within its tiny borders exists profound proof for what is possible if/when we decide, as a city, to grow our own food in Augusta.

Take, for example, the fact that these folks grew 75% percent of their own food in 2015 — all on a piece of land slightly larger than a basketball court. Even the largest-scale farmer would be impressed with that ratio. Bio-diversity, scientific observation, hardcore food preservation and learning-by-doing are keys to this success; there is zero tolerance for waste. 

They’ve got hens for eggs, bees for honey, rabbits for meat and poo. That three-barrel rain system attached to their roofline by gutters allows them to avoid the cost of city water in all but the driest of times. Recycling, reusing, repurposing and composting: this is the driving force at Bottle Tree, an ethic that feeds the soil AND fills the frig.

Candace will be our Featured Farmer at the AJCC pick-up location tomorrow, Tuesday, October 11, from 4pm-6pm. She’ll have garden art, handmade cards and crochet items available for sale. Come ask her your homesteading questions while early shopping for the holidays!

Candace started feeding her family from true scratch in 2007, back when converting your yard into a working farm wasn’t yet a cool thing to do in Augusta. From 2010-2015, she simultaneously blogged poetic about it. We’ve met plenty of hobby farmers in the CSRA who drew from the cyber-shared lessons learned at Bottle Tree Farm. Soon, Candace will re-run a select series of her posts, season by season, as a monthly guest blogger for Augusta Locally Grown. Candace is also a board member for ALG and spearheads the fundraising efforts for our GROW Harrisburg efforts. Hard to imagine where we’d be today without her courage to begin growing –  by example – nearly a decade ago.