Wednesday, June 20, 2012
This is the first season Signal Mountain residents Bob and Tammy Paulson have been on the vendor side of the table at the Signal Mountain Farmers Market at Bachman Community Center.
“We’re transitioning from what we’re used to,” said Bob Paulson, who is among a growing number of amateur farmers selling excess produce at local farmers markets, taking his family’s surplus vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage down the road to the Signal Mountain Farmers Market.
The Paulsons designed their garden at Bear Paw Farm to be their personal farm garden, where they could grow produce to eat fresh and can for themselves.
“The garden here is small, but if we do it right we can make it where we have a good steady flow for the market,” said Tammy Paulson.
They are now doing more intensive gardening in the space they have rather than expanding the garden, said her husband, a retired air traffic controller who was given the choice to live anywhere in the country and selected Signal Mountain.
Tammy Paulson, whom he met while both were living in the Virgin Islands, said timing is the biggest change that must be made when switching from gardening for just your family to growing enough produce to sell. She is beginning to employ successive gardening techniques, such as planting more lettuce seeds when a crop is ready to harvest. She said she would be less likely to do so if gardening for just herself, because she can only eat so many salads.
When the Paulsons first planted their garden upon moving to Signal Mountain in 1995, they planted their crops in rows. They have since moved to raised beds, which allows them to increase their output as well as improve the quality of the soil since it is not constantly being walked on, said Tammy Paulson.
She said she plants flowers amongst her vegetables, referred to as companion planting, to bring in pollinators.
“And they’re beautiful, so it brings me into the garden too,” she joked.
A few of the vegetables the Paulsons expect to be bringing to the market in the coming weeks include dragon tongue beans, rhubarb, muscadines, lettuce, kale and herbs.
While the produce is not certified organic, it does meet the same standards, they said. No chemical fertilizer is used, and organic fertilizer is used very sparingly.
Bear Paw Farm is also home to horses, dairy goats, chickens, border collies and a peacock. The newest additions are Bourbon Reds, which Bob Paulson said are known to be the most flavorful breed of turkey. While he plans to keep a male and female, he said he hopes the rest will be fully grown in time for Thanksgiving meals.
Every few days the Paulsons’ free-range chickens typically produce a dozen eggs, which they sell at the market when they have extra.