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Published on July 22nd, 2015 |

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Chastain Park’s organic farm is a growing food education resource

Tucked away on the south end of North Fulton Golf Course and behind the old bard that is the headquarters for the Chastain Park Conservancy is one of the best kept but most productive secrets of Chastain Park—the all organic Farm Chastain.

Chastain Park Conservancy Executive Director Rosa McHugh, left, with Master Gardener Rosie Davidson, who conceived the Farm Chastain program.

Chastain Park Conservancy Executive Director Rosa McHugh, left, with Master Gardener Rosie Davidson, who conceived the Farm Chastain program.

Now a little over two years old, Farm Chastain is home to free monthly gardening classes for the public—from March to October—presented by the Chastain Park Conservancy with the North Fulton Master Gardeners organization. The next class is this Saturday, July 25, 10-11 a.m.

The July 25 class is titled “Pick, Prep & Picnic” and is designed to provide instruction on “healthy, delicious and creative ideas for making the most of your garden harvest” according to the flyer. Those interested should click here or call 404-237-2177.

Rosa McHugh, left, and Rosie Davidson stand under the arbor entrance to Farm Chastain's raised beds.

Rosa McHugh, left, and Rosie Davidson stand under the arbor entrance to Farm Chastain’s raised beds.

Conservancy board member and Master Gardener Rosie Davidson, who is part Irish and part Scottish and says she started farming as a wee child, heads up the free educational gardening programs for adults and children alike, providing special organic gardening tips along with her fellow North Fulton Master Gardeners.

Conservancy Executive Director Rosa McHugh points out that Farm Chastain and the educational programs offered through it were all part of the Chastain Park Master Plan that was adopted a few years back.

“Farm Chastain is one of the CPC’s healthy living programs to educate the community on urban gardening,” McHugh explained.

North Fulton Master Gardener Rosie Davidson explains the variety of vegetable, herb  and flower plants in the garden.

North Fulton Master Gardener Rosie Davidson explains the variety of vegetable, herb and flower plants in the garden.

The farm was started two years ago last May with help from a grant from the Kendeda Fund and assistance of the Southeast Horticultural Society. The totally organic farm is even irrigated through an organic rain collection system which has tanks that can store 5,000 gallons of rail water—the catch from a normal hard rain.

The Farm Chastain program was the brainchild of Davidson, who teaches many of the classes. “Some people paint, but my way of being an artist is in the garden,” said Davidson, whose own home’s backyard made the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s 2014 Tour of Private Gardens.

A bee does  its job  pollunating one of the plants.

A bee does its job pollinating one of the plants.

Since 2013, hundreds of school children, adults, veterans and anyone interested in organic gardening and living a healthy lifestyle have visited the farm.

If the vegetables, herbs and such can be grown in Georgia, they are growing in the raised beds at one-third-acre Farm Chastain—most of which have been built from recycled materials and some are ADA accessible. There also are three bee hives now that are starting to produce Chastain Park Honey.

The next major project at Farm Chastain will be to build a greenhouse. Davidson said The Shepherd Center is going to partner with the Conservancy on the plan to build a

Rosie Davidson shows off artichokes, which are rare for such a garden.

Rosie Davidson shows off artichokes, which are rare for such a garden.

25-foot by 35-foot polycarbonate greenhouse. “That is a good sized greenhouse,” she said, “and much needed.”

Davidson explained that they received most of the seedlings from Good Sam’s in downtown Atlanta and they provide food back to Good Sam’s from the garden. “The food goes to food banks to help the homeless and underprivileged,” she said.

“It is all run by grants. We don’t charge for anything,” Davidson said.
Well, almost. They recently had 15-20 kids from the Titus Sports Camp, a sports conditioning club on West Wieuca Road for a session and they do charge the sports club $5 per head for those participating and they use the money to purchase plants.

The purpose of the Master Gardener classes are to make people understand the concept of organic gardening and help them realize the benefits of organically grown foods. They also have container classes during the year.

A staple of every farm is the rows of corn. This corn is the work of the park's Director of Operations Ray Mock.

A staple of every farm is the rows of corn. This corn is the work of the park’s Director of Operations Ray Mock.

They recently had 36 children in for a class that included a scavenger hunt to locate types of vegetables, distinguish the sounds of the garden and gain a sense of the space. The children got to take home pots from the garden “and they were so excited to go away with their own piece of the garden, even if it was only a sprig of thyme,” Davidson said.

She said children from the Galloway School, E. Rivers Elementary and Pace Academy all have come and participated in programs at Farm Chastain, along with participants from the Center for the

What is an organic farm if not a place to find large tomatoes that smell and taste terrific.

What is an organic farm if not a place to find large tomatoes that smell and taste terrific.

Visually Impaired.

The Pick, Prep & Picnic class July 25 is being taught by health Master Gardener Amy Magnar. The free monthly classes for the rest of this year include: “Growing and Using Herbs,” Aug. 29; “The Pollinators,” Sept. 26; and “Putting the Garden to Bed,” Oct. 22, a primer on getting the garden ready for fall and winter.

To reserve a spot at one of the classes, click here or call 404-237-2177. To contact Rosie Davidson, email wldrosie1@gmail.com.

Farm Chastain at the Chastain Park Conservancy is located at 4001 Powers Ferry Road in north Buckhead. To get to the farm you drive across a fairway of North Fulton Golf Course on a one-lane road off Powers Ferry Road.

The Chastain Park Conservancy is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to restore, enhance, maintain and preserve the 268 acres of Chastain Park. To contact the Conservancy, email: www.chastainparkconservancy.org.

 

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