Save Tilton Hollow Farm

Sometimes you can make a big difference really easily. This is one of those times.

To make a long story short, Tilton Hollow Farm needs to raise $1,300 by tomorrow, or the bank is going to take their farm. If you can think of a way to help them out, please do. Like Woodland Urban Farm, they’re on the verge of really big things. They’ve been selling goat milk soap and health & beauty products for a while now, and they have plans to open a retail space at the Longaberger Homestead in less than two weeks. But this bump in their cash flow could ruin them.


I’d love to help them myself–not just because they’re good people doing good work, and not even because they helped spread the word when we were raising money to buy the land next door, but also because I’ve considered buying breeding stock from them at some point in the not-too-distant future.

The county land bank has officially accepted my offer on the land next door. I’m just waiting to receive the paperwork so we can close the deal. As such, I’m sitting on all the money we raised, expecting to hand it all over to the land bank at any moment so we can finally move forward. I want to hurry up and close on this place so I have time to build a fence around it before it’s time to plant trees there in the spring. In addition to fencing out the deer and two-legged intruders, I also need to clear some space. That means cutting down some burned trees and clearing out a lot of undergrowth, which would be a lot easier and more efficient if I had some goats to do it for me. Instead of burning gasoline and a lot of time bush hogging all that brush into low-grade compost, I could burn no fuel and a lot less time turning it into meat or milk and high-grade compost. Once that’s done, I’ll plant fruit and nut trees and probably some berry bushes.

Anyway, Tilton Hollow: they raise goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, bees, and one alpaca on a 192-year old farm about an hour northeast of Columbus…and they’re going to lose it all if they can’t come up with $1,300. Not a huge amount, but a huge loss for all of us if they don’t come up with it. “For want of a nail the kingdom was lost.”

Please help them however you can. It looks like you can still contribute through the crowd sourcing campaign they were running earlier to fund the barn renovation:

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Onions for Sale

locally grown organic onions

I have small-to-medium yellow, red, and white onions for sale, Columbus grown and chemical-free. I have…

  • 13 lbs. of yellow onions
  • 5 lbs. of white onions
  • 4 lbs. of red onions

All onions are $2.50 per pound.

Email or call (614) 390-2692 to arrange pick-up or delivery.

[Edit: The onions are sold out now, but you can find them at the Clintonville Community Market. I don’t know what they’ll be charging for them.]

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Tallying Up the Onions


In anticipation of the storm that came earlier this afternoon, I brought in most of the onions from the front porch–the ones that were done curing or mostly done. I trimmed the roots and tops this evening, sorted out the ones that were too blemished or peeled to sell (we’ll eat those), and weighed what was left.

I have 4 lbs. of red onions, 5 lbs. of white onions, and 13 lbs. of yellow onions (and another couple pounds or so of yellow ones that Mayda braided and hung on the wall). I’ve also sold one yellow onion and eaten several more already, so I could probably add another pound  or two to that total. Amalie and I planted equal amounts of each color this spring, so the yellows were clearly the best producers…which is probably why most of the bagged onions in the grocery store are yellow ones. I’ve no idea what variety they were. We bought bags of onion sets on sale at Menard’s that were simply labeled by color.

The kids and I will go out tomorrow and find out what other places are charging for onions.

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Next Year’s Corn

On one of the Facebook pages I follow, people talked about a clearance sale on vegetable seeds at Dollar General. People were getting packs of seeds for as little as two cents each. I checked around, found that the Dollar General in Gahanna still had seeds, and sure enough, everything was marked 90% off. I pretty well cleared out their seeds for edibles. I figure I have most of my seeds for the next three years now. 655 packets of seeds and a bottle of Mt. Dew came to a total of $29.51. I figure I’ll grow a lot of starts to sell next year and maybe set up an aquaponic system for growing lettuce.

Anyway, because I have all these new seeds, I figured it was time to go through my old ones and throw away a bunch of stuff. The oldest was a pack of cucumber seeds from 1995! I came across something that sent me doing some research, though. I have a pack of Bloody Butcher corn from Seed Savers Exchange that I never opened. It’s packed for 2012, so it might still be viable. I wasn’t too impressed at first glance because I thought it was just an ornamental corn, and as ornamental varieties go, my Glass Gem beats the pants off an all-red variety. But I looked closer and thought, “Hey, that looks like a dent corn, not a flint.”

heirloom corn

Bloody Butcher

I’ve been thinking I should get away from growing flint corn unless I’m growing a proven variety of popcorn. Last year I grew Glass Gem to sell as seed, and I had a lot left over. This year, I decided to try crossing it with a couple varieties of popcorn I like, and as soon as I had planted it I regretted it. Developing new breeds takes years, and I don’t feel like I have the space to devote to that kind of experimentation. My goal was to develop a colorful popcorn. Glass Gem has beautiful colors but doesn’t pop well. I realized (after I planted) that I could have achieved the same thing without years of selective breeding just by growing some proven varieties of colored popcorn (I’ve seen reds and blues), shelling them, and mixing them together before bagging. Flint corn is very hardy as far as surviving the cold, but you don’t grow corn in the winter anyway, so it’s not really much of an advantage unless you live in a really cold place or get hit with a little ice age. (Flint corn was one of the few crops to survive the “Year Without A Summer” in 1816.)

Flint corn isn’t anywhere near as productive as dent corn, though, which is why dent corn is what’s grown for everything from corn chips to biodegradable plastics. Flint corn is also especially prone to “lodging” (falling over for no apparent reason). Sweet corn is marketable, but only for a short time. I like the idea of growing something that has a shelf life of more than a few days, especially a staple crop. Also, most of the tasty sweet corn varieties I’m familiar with are hybrids, and I like to save my own seeds. It looks like dent corn might be the way to go.

If I get chickens again, I’d like to grow at least some of their feed. I’m thinking that growing a dent corn, pole beans, and pumpkins together would be the best bet for feeding chickens. Since most of what’s grown in this country is corn, and since most of that corn is GMO, I see the value in preserving at least one heirloom breed of dent corn, especially on this farm, since our location in town and surrounded by woods pretty well protects us from cross-pollination from the big, rural, commodity farms.

Since I’ve been kicking around the idea of growing an heirloom dent corn anyway, I was pretty excited to see that I had what appeared to be a pack of heirloom dent seeds. I went online to look up the variety and see what I could learn about it. I’m impressed. This article in Western North Carolina Magazine says Bloody Butcher is a highly sought-after variety, and a favorite for moonshine. It gets 12′ tall and the ears are about 8″-12″, with two ears per plant. In looking up Bloody Butcher, though, I came across some other heirloom varieties of dent corn, and now I’m feeling indecisive.

A site called has Daymon Morgan’s Kentucky Butcher, with the following description:

“(rainbow) 110 days. [Late 1800s Appalachian family heirloom] Beautiful, multicolored, huge ears (up to 14 in. long!) on sturdy 12-18 ft. stalks, 1-2 ears per stalk, 10-14 rows per ear. Grown by generations of Daymon Morgan’s family in Leslie Co., eastern KY; selected since 2001 by Susana Lein of Salamander Springs Farm in Berea, KY. Some all-red and all-blue ears along with an array of purple, white, and painted orange kernels. Bloody Butcher parentage crossed over the decades to produce an immensely productive, drought tolerant, hardy dent corn good for sweet roasting ears and gorgeous, delicious cornmeal.”

Eighteen-foot stalks! That’s like bamboo! I have trees smaller than that! And while it’s no Glass Gem, it’s very colorful.

And it’s silly, but since I already own a pack of Bloody Butcher, and because I visited a former housemate of mine while she was going to college in Berea, I kind of feel like I already have a personal connection to this Monster Rainbow Flour corn. But then, what’s this?

Ohio Blue Clarage

blue-clarage-dent-cornFrom the site:

“(blue) 100 days. [Developed west of the Appalachians in the Ohio and W. Virginia area ~1830- ’50.] A highly uniform, semi-dent corn. Solid blue, medium-sized ears on 7 ft. stalks, 1 ear/stalk. Originally developed as a meal and feed corn, it has a higher sugar content than most dent corns, and may be used as a table corn when harvested in the milk stage. When used for cornmeal it has a sweet flavor. It mills easily and makes speckled blue and white flour, but if the bran is sifted out, a white flour is obtained. Older farmers who use this corn to feed chickens claim that the chickens will eat more, lay more eggs, and put on more meat. Resists lodging, and tolerates crowding and smut better than many other open pollinated corns.”

Holy moly! An heirloom variety originating from SE Ohio 185 years ago that makes sweet, pretty flour and big, happy chickens…that sounds just about perfect. It’s not a true dent, being halfway between a dent and a flint, but it says it’s actually sweeter than full-fledged dents. And with 7′ stalks instead of 18′ stalks, it probably won’t be as heavy a feeder.

I thought this one looked pretty, even if it’s better suited to farms further south.

Hickory Cane Dent

hickory-cane“(white) 85/110 days. [pre- 1875] Heirloom dent corn originally selected by Native Americans in N. Florida and S. Georgia. It came to be prized across the mountain South for roasting ears, creamed corn, grits, and hominy, and particularly for white cornmeal, as well as fodder for animals. Plants up to 15 ft. tall. Tight ears keep out ear worms. Large ears stay in the green milk “roasting ear” stage longer than most heirlooms.”

This one sounds like a real performer:

Reid’s Yellow Dent


“(yellow) 85/110 days. [1840s. Robert Reid had a poor stand of the light red, late-maturing ‘Gordon Hopkins’ one year and replanted the missing hills with the early yellow flint corn. He then grew accidental hybrid until it stabilized. A prize winner at the 1893 World’s Fair and progenitor of a number of yellow dent lines.] One of the most productive, hardy corns ever developed. This old-timer is well known in the Mid-Atlantic region, where it is revered for its adaptability and dependability in Southern heat and soils. 7 ft. stalks with 9 in. double ears well-filled with 16 rows of deep, close-set, moderately flat seed.”

Here’s another native of southern Ohio:

Leaming’s Yellow

leaming-corn(yellow) 95 days. [1850s, bred by Jacob Leaming of Clinton County, Ohio. Rare now, this famous variety won a prize at the World’s Fair in Paris, and has been used in breeding much of the U.S.’s corn.] 8½-10 in. ears with deep yellow kernels, 14-22 rows/ear, red cobs. 7-8 ft. stalks. Widely adapted, though not recommended for Deep South.

Possibly a challenger to the Ohio Blue Clarage:

McCormack’s Blue Giant


(blue) 85/100 days. [Introduced 1994 by SESE. Bred by Dr. Jeff McCormack from a cross between Hickory King and an unnamed heirloom blue dent.] The large, wide, smoky blue kernels can be ground into a light blue flour, suited for blue tortillas and blue corn chips. Also good as a roasting ear corn (old fashioned corn on the cob). Especially suited to the eastern U.S., clay soils, and drought-prone areas. The tall 10-12 ft. stalks are not recommended for loose soils or high wind areas. One or two 7-8½ in. ears per stalk. Good tolerance to leaf blights.

The Hickory King they mentioned is a favored variety for hominy and grits in Virginia.

Here’s another giant descendant of Bloody Butcher:

Pungo Creek Butcher

pungo-creek “(rainbow) [Eastern Shore heirloom from Bill Savage, grown for 165 years by Pungo Creek, VA farmers. Genetic analysis shows it to be descended from Bloody Butcher.] A tall, hardy corn with sturdy stalks up to 11 ft. Ears are a mixed rainbow of red, brown, yellow, and sometimes purple. 9-12 in. ears in tightly wrapped husks. Rough milled this is a nutritious feed for your flock, or the corn can be ground into a meal with rich flavor and unusual color. Pretty enough to grow just for looks, this corn is delicious baked into muffins or cornbread.”


Actually, to be honest, I’m not sure I’m going to be growing any of this next year unless I get my second field cleared. I have a bunch of sweet corn seed I need to use up. I’d love to grow so many of these varieties, though…and wheat, and millet, and amaranth, and rice, and…

I’m gonna need a bigger farm.

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North Memphis Farmers Collective

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about Adam Guerrero, an urban farmer in Memphis who was fighting for the right to garden in the city. I recently received an email from Stephanie Diane Ford, a colleague of his, updating me on their situation. The gardens have grown and several urban farmers there have joined to form the North Memphis Farmers Collective. They’ve had some challenges–not the least of which was the city cutting down their fig trees (sounds more like something you’d expect to hear out of Palestine than Tennessee)–but things have gone well enough for them that, like us, they’re trying to grow. They have a Kickstarter to raise money to buy a truck, a tractor, a chainsaw, and other needed equipment.

It’s really exciting–their goal is $10,000, and they’re less than $1,000 from succeeding. Unlike the “flexible funding” option I used on Indiegogo that allows you to collect whatever money people donate even if you don’t meet the goal, Kickstarter is all or nothing. If their donations hit $10,000 in time, they get all the money donated (minus fees). If they’re a buck short, they get zip (which is why I opted for Indiegogo instead). They’re close to success, but they only have five days left.

They’ve put together a really impressive video. I encourage you to go watch it even if you have no intention of helping them. It’s almost a mini-documentary about the troubles in North Memphis and what these farmers are doing to fix them.


Speaking of deadlines, our own crowdfunding campaign has ended. I’ve completed the application along with a list of community organizations that support our plan for the vacant lot next door. We didn’t hit the goal, but I think we’re making a more than fair offer on the place, considering its location, lack of a paved road to the driveway, and its view of the gas company substation. I just need to send it to them Monday. After Indiegogo sends us the money, I’ll start sending out the “perks” people claimed. I’ll let you know when I hear more.

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Our Video Is Now Online!

After a few long nights, and by the generosity of Elephant Revival, who allowed us to use their song, “The Pasture,” Mayda and I have finally finished the video for our Indiegogo campaign which launched five days ago. We’re trying to raise money to purchase a vacant lot next door. Doing so will make our farm big enough to legally be allowed to raise animals. Enjoy the video and share it with anyone else who might be interested.

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The Crowdfunding Has Begun!

As longtime readers of this blog are probably aware, we used to raise chickens. LOTS of chickens, at least as far as urban, backyard flocks go. We had a laying flock of about 75-150, with plans to have about 300, and at our most productive, I was taking about 100 broilers to the processor every two weeks. We sold meat and eggs at farmers markets, from our home, made home deliveries in the area, supplied Two Caterers and Red Snapper, and for a little while, even sold through Celebrate Local at Easton. Customers were happy, urban homesteaders were getting inspired, life was good.

And then our birds got stolen, along with a bunch of other stuff. To put a stop to that, I fixed up the old house on the land where I’d had the chickens, and my family and I moved in. But by the time we did so, the county changed the zoning rules and said we can’t have more than 24 chickens unless we have more than five acres. If we have more than five acres, they can’t say anything about it, as state law would exempt us from local regulation.

We wanted to buy the vacant lot next to ours, but we couldn’t locate the deceased owner’s next-of-kin. Eventually, I applied to have the county land bank take control of that lot. They cleaned it up, and two years after my initial application, they offered to sell it to us. During the time we were waiting, however, someone else told the land bank they were interested in that lot, too, so the land bank has invited us to submit an offer. We’re trying to get all our supporters to chip in, both to raise more money than we personally could offer, and to demonstrate to the land bank that there’s wide community support for us farming the vacant land.


Since this is a new beginning for our farm, I’m changing the name from Frijolito Farm to Woodland Urban Farm. “Frijolito” is a little bean. That was appropriate when we were just a quarter-acre and a few small gardens scattered around Columbus, but I think we’ve outgrown the name now that we’re looking at growing to almost seven acres. My vision for Woodland Urban Farm is to grow food, sell it along with handicrafts year-round at an on-site market, and offer meeting space for classes, workshops, and discussion groups for those interested in sustainable living and connecting with nature. If you want to be a part of this, please visit our Indiegogo site and contribute. If you’re not in a position to offer money, please share the link and encourage others to do so. Also, contact Curtiss Williams, Vice President of The Land Reutilization Corporation of Franklin County (614-525-4938), and let him know that you want Wayne Shingler to farm the vacant lot on Woodland Avenue, especially if you live in central Ohio. And to those who’ve so generously contributed already, thank you. We’ll receive the money a couple weeks after the end of the campaign, and I’ll send out your “perks” after that.

Support Woodland Urban Farm

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The Moment Is Here

Even now, three years after our last chicken disappeared, I still get calls from people looking for eggs or chicken. I hate taking these calls, because it hurts me to disappoint these people. I want to raise chickens, but I haven’t been able to do so for three years.

Initially, this was because I didn’t have adequate security. I was raising the birds at an old house a couple blocks away from where we lived at the time. After so many thefts and predator attacks, I decided I just couldn’t farm there anymore until I moved in so I could guard the place full-time. I focused my attention on fixing up that old house, and in 2013, my family and I moved in.

But at that point, I still couldn’t resume raising chickens, because the county had passed a new zoning regulation saying that no more than 24 chickens could be raised on any property smaller than five acres. We have something like 4.85 acres, so that put me out of the chicken business.

According to state law, however, if we had more than five acres, neither the township nor the county would have any authority to regulate agriculture on our land. In other words, if he have more than five acres, we’re exempt from the county zoning rule about livestock.

It just so happens that there’s a vacant lot adjoining our land that’s big enough to put us over that five-acre mark if we were to buy it. A little over two years ago, I contacted the county land bank to have them seize the property and sell it to me. Last year, they bulldozed the burned down house on that lot, cleaned up the trash, and planted grass. There were some delays while they offered the elementary school on the other side of the lot the opportunity to buy the land, but the land bank is finally offering me the chance to buy it. In the time I’ve been waiting, however, another person has come forward and expressed interest in buying it. (I don’t know who they are or what they want to do with the land.) So rather than just telling me how much they want for it, the land bank is telling me to submit an offer.

Obviously, this is going to drive the price up. I don’t have the cash on hand to make a competitive offer right now, and there’s no way we could get an affordable bank loan, having declared bankruptcy last year, so I’m starting a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. I’m not sure what the exact launch date will be, as I’m still putting together a video, but it will be soon. It probably won’t take me more than a week, but Indigogo has announced a rate change beginning July 15 that could potentially save me a few hundred dollars in fees if I wait until then. It’s just a question of whether I can put off the land bank long enough to do that.

I’m hoping that, with your help, we can make this place a destination for people who want to support and learn about urban agriculture.


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The Sap Is Running

We tapped some of our trees for the first time today. At first, I was having trouble with the sap dripping out around the spiles, so I tore strips off a plastic grocery bag and wrapped them around the spiles like Teflon tape on a threaded pipe fitting. This caused the spile to fit snugly and created a plastic washer to keep the sap from dripping down the bark beneath the spile. Once I figured that out, I found the trees to be very productive–at least the maples, anyway. The black walnut trees I tapped are barely dripping.


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The Criminalization of Choice

The government refuses to force food manufacturers to list GMOs on their ingredient lists. But if you’re trying to avoid genetically modified food, at least you have the option of growing your own or buying from a local grower whose methods you can observe…or do you?

Writer Bonnie Kristian talks about how the same thinking that motivates governments to outlaw services like Lyft and Uber is resulting in people being prosecuted for growing food.


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