Community gardens are not uncommon among planned communities. At Spring Island, there are garden plots where members can grow what they like, but we also have something much bigger. Waterfall Farm is four acres of cultivated, community-run farmland, sewn with an abundant variety of delicious produce, all grown and harvested to feed Spring Island residents, staff, and surrounding area.
Located just off the main loop, along its namesake lane, Waterfall Farm’s roots are 16 years old. It all began as one resident’s initiative to plant a crop of corn to share with others in the community. Hidden right in the heart of the island, the location and vocation of Rick Baxter’s cornfield remained a mystery to most until he lost his vision and was unable to maintain the crops himself. Sharing his garden’s location with neighbor Alison Crossman four years ago was the impetus needed to grow Rick’s small plot into the fantastic farmland that feeds the community today.
Upon request from the small collective of neighbors who took on the Farm as their pet project, the Spring Island Trust, under the supervision of Land Manager Johnny Taylor, cleared and burned four acres in the original location just off Waterfall Lane. They built in-roads and worked the soil until it was ready for planting. As the main spokesperson for Waterfall Farm, Alison Crossman took the initiative to spread the word about the Farm to members, poll residents for the types of produce they’d like to receive, and keep people updated on what, how, and when to pick, via the Spring Island weekly newsletter, where she also shares delicious recipes!
Free Produce for All
Butternut squash, broccoli, spinach, arugula, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, radishes… the farm now boasts an exceptional diversity of delicious, health-conscious veggies that not only keep the residents of Spring Island’s crispers full, but provides such an abundance that the larger community also benefits from each harvest. Once the initial piles of produce have been brought to Spring Island’s mailroom for residents to collect, loads more get distributed to staff, taken to the local fire station, as well as to churches in neighboring communities. Whatever is left over keeps the island’s various wildlife population happily well-fed.
Planting for the summer crop at Waterfall Farm starts March 15, while planting for the winter crop starts in early October. Volunteer members are always welcome to lend a hand every Tuesday morning for an hour, starting at 8:30 a.m. Keeping one field empty for healthy crop rotation, each year Alison and planters tweak the veggies to see what new varieties they can come up with. “It’s fun to see what will work,” says Alison. “It’s always an experiment!”