Introducing Llama Bean Garden at Applecheek Farm!

When Edge and I moved to the farm, John and Rocio let us take over the “sacrifice field,” where the cows had overwintered, and turn it into a growing space.  During the second week of May, on our first walk out there, I looked at the remnants of round bales—spread out circles of hay trampled into the grass and mud—thought of the date, and wondered how are we going to get this ready in time to plant?

We quickly decided to change the name to the “sacred field,” hoping this would help it along, and we changed our planting plans from oats and wheat to dry beans and corn for cornmeal.  After a few days of Edge plowing, disking and raking with the tractor, and a few more days of rain, we started seeding on June 1st.  Since then, we’ve planted an acre with kidney, black, European soldier, kenearly, and cannellini beans, and nothstine dent and Calais flint corn.

As we worked, we continued to think about an official name for our garden, since we plan to sell some beans and cornmeal through the farm store this winter, and will be growing grains to market in the coming seasons.  Inspired by all our beans and the view of the llamas in the paddocks next to the field, we chose to name our sacred field Llama Bean Garden at Applecheek Farm.

Despite the lack of preparation last fall, the beans and corn are growing just fine, and so are many other plants.  It’s got me remembering the Thoreau quote: “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”

I’ve written about wildness before—about learning to see wildness not only in the forest, but in the garden, too, and remembering how wildness creates a harmony between order and chaos.  Well now I find myself approaching chaos as wild weeds begin their take over of the bean and corn plot!  Edge and I have been running over each chance we get to free the rows from the strangling stems and leaves of plants we did not sow, but it will be a while before our crops are tall enough to out-compete the weeds.  With a lot of cultivating and under sowing of cover crops, though, eventually we will be able to look back and laugh about the time when Llama Bean looked like this:


cultivated corn rows surrounded by beans lost in weeds


We are asking a lot from the land by trying to create a large garden so quickly, so for now we’re working with what we have, and we’re thankful to have a plot to grow in.  Edge reminds me that we can work to manage the weeds instead of fight them, and I like this subtle change of words.  We are striking a balance between chaos and order, between weeds and crops, and remembering that wildness has its place everywhere, even at Llama Bean.