The Sustainable Agricultural Network for Training and Environmental Education
|Irrigating the Garden Of Seven Gates
We are working closely with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), a wing of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), to jointly design and irrigation system for pumping water to the 6.5 acre site known as the 'Garden of Seven Gates.' A government cost sharing initiative called Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) will provide cost sharing payments (up to 75%) to agricultural producers who voluntarily address issues such as water management and erosion control by incorporating conservation into their farming practices S.A.N.T.E.E. qualifies for the funds under the category of being a sustainable organic truck farming operation. The centerpiece of the scheme calls for the excavation of a pond capable of holding one million gallons of surface run-off during the rainy spring. The water would be held until needed in the hot season and pumped -- via solar design -- to a storage tank in the field. NRCS has drawn up a conservation plan and we now await the release of funds from Washington. S.A.N.T.E.E. has also applied for another cost sharing project to erect a manure stacking facility.
Seven families and three individuals have requested garden plots in S.A.N.T.E.E's display garden this year. The applicants are residents of a nearby apartment complex where good garden sites, free from deer invasion, are scarce. Each novice gardener is responsible for a120 square foot growing area, and must agree to keep their beds watered, mulched and weed free. Their beds are amidst 40 other raised beds containing flowers. medicinal herbs and vegetables. The display garden is visited by many hundreds of sight seers each year.
With a view to stimulate agri-tourism, we're planning a series of field trips and short excursions to the sites of several farming, gardening and horticultural organizations. The groups are all noted for their expertise and creativity in and around West Virginia's northern panhandle. We'll visit Middle Mountain Acres, the Burches Run Wildflower Nursery, La Paix Herb Farm, The Palace of Gold Rose Gardens, Healing Hills Herb Farm and the International Society for Cow Protection.
S.A.N.T.E.E. is researching the use of two alternative energy sources, biodiesel and methane. Biodiesel is made from used kitchen grease or waste vegetable oil and can be used in place of petroleum based diesel fuel. Methane gas is produced by any decomposing organic matter. Cows, in particular, produce a lot of methane gas. A single cow generates about 47 lbs of manure each day. We're anxious to replace petroleum based diesel and propane -- both are used in our present operation -- with energy sources closer to home. Two resident engineers, Dean Frankenhauser, a retired U.S. Coast Guard captain, and Kanayalal Sadaranganai, a graduate of ITT Bonbasy (B-tech, honors), are exploring the possibilities.