Jeff Poppen is on the campus of Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville to learn both the challenges and rewards of having a school garden. Here, organic is the way this garden grows. The composting process is well supported here. This school not only uses the garden in the curriculum for students, there’s also a garden club.
- Composting time is widely variable, and dependent on the conditions. Ideally, the materials should be broken down to the point of being indistinguishable.
- The bigger the compost bin, the faster the compost finishes as a large container can capture and retain more heat than a small one.
- Ultimately, composting relies on the production of carbon and nitrogen, which feed off each other. Carbon is produced through 'brown' materials such as twigs, cardboard, paper, leaves and sawdust. Nitrogen comes from 'green' materials, such as vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells and manures.
Jeff says his parents loved growing plants on their Illinois farm, and he credits them for his passion for growing. He’s made his living growing the best organic vegetables he can. Jeff acknowledges he has learned through experience over four decades. He is also an avid student of old-time farming methods, the way folks grew stuff before all of the chemicals in farming. He is compelled to try and shorten the learning curve for other gardeners. Jeff adds, “My wish is that my love for growing organically inspires others.”