The purpose of the Research & Demonstration (R&D) Garden is to explore a variety of progressive, environmentally-sound and practical methods of raising food in small home gardens. We invite you to observe and learn about the different gardening methods presented in the R&D Garden that are designed to work with the challenging mountain soil and climate of our area. Different methods will be tested to determine which approach best suits a gardener’s terrain, level of interest and budget.
Feed Fannin has created two 4’ x 24’ raised beds, one of which was configured to grow plants vertically to conserve space. All the produce grown by Feed Fannin volunteers in the R&D garden is donated to the Family Connection Food Pantry.
Goals of the Research Garden
- Establish a location where new methods of sustainable gardening can be tested and evaluated
- Create a “learning” lab where progressive, sustainable gardening methods can be taught
- Drive interest in growing food, using environmentally sound growing methods to increase harvests, and share community-based research and learnings
- Provide an opportunity for members of the community to see how small garden plots can successfully grow healthy produce
About the Mittleider Method
The R&D garden incorporates the “Mittleider Garden Method,” which produces higher yields with less water in a smaller space than the standard garden. The method also makes use of synthetic soil in raised beds, comprised typically of 75% saw dust and 25% sand by volume, which essentially eliminates weeds.
The Mittleider Garden method follows six basic laws of growing:
- Light – Plants require as much light as possible to produce photosynthesis, which is essential for plant growth.
- Temperature – Plants require a narrow range of temperature for germination and growth.
- Air – Taken in from their roots, plants receive 3 essential nutrients from air (carbon, oxygen and hydrogen) from which they create carbohydrates.
- Water – Plants contain over 80% water by weight. Water carries nutrients from the soil through the roots to the plant.
- Nutrition – Plants require balanced nutrition all the time for healthy growth. Plants receive nutrients as water soluble minerals, through their roots. There are 16 nutrients (elements) that are essential for plant growth: 3 come from the air, and 13 from the soil.
- Competition – Weeds, insects, animals, and disease are all in competition to inhibit, compromise, or destroy plant growth and must be eliminated.
So what’s happened so far, and what’s the future for Mittleider gardening at Feed Fannin?
During our first growing season in 2018, we harvested 277 lbs of fresh produce from the R&D Garden and donated it to the Family Connection Food Pantry. We grew our second crop in fall of 2018 (mixed, butternut and romaine lettuce, mustard and collard greens, beets, and turnips). Stay up to date with Feed Fannin news to learn how the R&D garden is evolving.
Visit the R&D Garden
The Research & Demonstration Garden is currently located in front of the new Fannin County Family Connection Food Pantry.
The Barbara Ferer Research & Demonstration Garden is a project of Feed Fannin made possible through support of the George Link, Jr., Charitable Trust. We are grateful to The George Link, Jr., Charitable Trust for their support of Feed Fannin’s efforts to provide nutritious food and fresh produce to those in need in our community and to share knowledge about sustainable gardening methods suitable for our area.