The secret is in the soil at Brown Dirt Farm


Scott and Brooke Brown pick strawberries at Brown Dirt Farm in Dunlap. The couple sells their produce at the Signal Mountain Farmers Market.

At Brown Dirt Farm, the emphasis is placed on the soil, said Scott Brown, who has owned the Dunlap farm since last June with his wife Brooke. They sell their produce each Thursday at the Signal Mountain Farmers Market located at Bachman Community Center.

“We concentrate more on the soil than we do on the plants,” he said. “We feel like the basis of our farm should start with the soil. High-quality produce comes from high-quality dirt.”

The Browns use compost to create their superior dirt, taking spent waste such as vegetables, cow manure and leaf mulch through a process that turns it into “black gold,” said Brooke Brown.

“It’s a process of reduction,” she said. “When you add the reduced compost to the ground, it enlivens the ground and encourages biodiversity.”

She described the farm’s growing style as sustainable and natural. While the farm is not certified organic, no chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides are used, she added.

“We grow mainly heirloom varieties,” said Brooke Brown.

The couple lived on Signal Mountain for six years before moving to Whitwell, Tenn., to be closer to their farm, a 10-acre tract of land of which 3 acres are currently under production.

Scott Brown began farming in North Carolina in 2006, and Brooke Brown began a year later at Rise and Shine organic farm in Chickamauga, Ga.

“I fell in love with farming there and decided this is my path,” she said.

Scott Brown said he started farming because he saw a need.

“I feel more people need to,” he said. “There’s a very great imbalance in the number of people who eat and the number of people who produce quality food.”

He encourages others to start growing their own food.

“Even if it’s just a home garden, that would be great,” said Scott Brown. He suggests that people start out growing what they like to eat — “That way they directly benefit.”

Brown Dirt Farm offers plants including tomatoes, kale, collard greens, bell peppers, chard, lettuce, basil, cilantro, squash, zucchini and different flowers.

Brooke Brown said she likes to plant marigolds around the farm, because they are pretty and also keep away harmful insects.

They said now is a great time to plant tomatoes, okra, beans, squash and cucumbers — or basically anything that flowers.


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