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Old Ways, New Faces (4)


Second Act

If Blue Gate Farm could be characterized in a word, it would be “diversification.”

As relative newcomers to farming, Jill Beebout and Sean Skeehan knew they would have to harness all of their creative powers after leaving successful theater careers in Houston to found their Iowa farm in 2005.

For Jill, whose family owns the land, the endeavor offered a familiar role. For Sean, it was a brand-new script.

Nestled in the rolling hills south of Knoxville, the 40-acre farm is among the most recent additions to a cluster of small producers who have turned a rugged landscape unfriendly to row cropping into a mecca for local food.

To manage the complex multiyear rotation system for their vegetable plots, Jill drafts garden maps to keep track of which crops were planted where each year.

This way she can ensure next year’s plantings of Oregon Giant peas, cipollini onions, and Red Russian kale not only move to a different garden bed but also follow crops from the previous year whose nutrient consumption will have primed the soil to benefit a different plant the next growing season.

(Read more Old Ways, New Faces)

Jill Beebout and Sean Skeehan
maintain a complex rotation system
for Blue Gate Farm’s vegetable plots,
leveraging nature to prime the soil
and diversifying products to
strengthen their future.

Meet Your Farmer

In 2007 Blue Gate Farm teamed up with four other farms in Marion and Lucas Counties for the inaugural Farm Crawl, when participants opened their doors to visitors, offering tours, samples, and products for purchase. The first year attracted 500 visitors. The event has now grown to include eight area farms and has nearly tripled in attendance, drawing just over 1,300 participants in 2011. This year's Farm Crawl is Sunday, October 7th from 11:00am–5:00pm.

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