Baldwin's Bounty

How does your garden grow?

Silverhill business has farming down to a science

By John Underwood / john@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 1/11/19

SILVERHILL, Alabama — Will Mastin and his business partner Karl Brantley of Local Appetite Growers in Silverhill have farming down to a science.

While some of their 3 1/2 -acre farm includes …

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Baldwin's Bounty

How does your garden grow?

Silverhill business has farming down to a science

Posted

SILVERHILL, Alabama — Will Mastin and his business partner Karl Brantley of Local Appetite Growers in Silverhill have farming down to a science.

While some of their 3 1/2 -acre farm includes traditional row crops, most is crown in a high-tunnel system using hydroponics with very little if any soil.

By controlling the growth environment, Mastin said, “we average about six crops a year. If we were growing outside, we might be able to squeeze in three.”

They can also squeeze in about twice the number of plants into the same amount of space, he said.

All of the crops they grow are also completely certified organic, which means no chemicals.

“The closed-in environment means we can control disease without chemicals,” he said. “We also have very few pests to deal with.”

What few pests there are can be controlled by using beneficial insects, he said, or insects that don’t harm the plant, but prey on the pests that can hurt the plant.

“We pretty much know what beneficial insects work for the different pests,” he said.

When necessary, the beneficial insects can be ordered through a lab and are shipped in containers. Once the beneficial insects are done eating, they will either die or fly away, Mastin said.

Primarily the crops grown on the small Silverhill farm are vegetable crops, including six types of lettuce, kale and cabbage. The farm also has a few outside crops, such as carrots, mustard greens, broccoli and cauli flower.

They also have an area set aside for heirloom tomatoes, which are grown through a USDA grant, and they have a few chickens that produce eggs and a few hogs.

“Right now, our market is pretty small,” Mastin said. “We mainly cater to a few locals who order our products. We also provide organic produce to restaurants.”

They are currently working to build another high-tunnel system in hopes that the expansion will allow them to have enough inventory to supply some restaurants. They are also working with a local fresh market in hopes of becoming one of their suppliers.

Local Appetite Growers also has a local produce home delivery service, Mastin said. A four-week subscription costs $100 and includes lettuce and eggs delivered almost every week, along with seasonal produce, such as satsumas, carrots and swiss chard.

“All of the produce is grown here on the farm or supplied through local partners,” Mastin said.

If you would like to learn more, you can contact Mastin at localappetitegrowers@gmail.com or call 251-656-9265.