A Visit to Red Sky Farm

I've been visiting friends, something I don't do often enough, and while visiting I've been interviewing them so that I can share their stories with you. Each has focused on a different area of homesteading. This is the second in this series of homestead visits; you can find the previous visit here.


Today I'm taking you to Red Sky Farm, where Robin and her family have lived since 2007. Robin has chickens, several dairy and meat goats, and extensive gardens. She sells eggs and produce at the local farmers market.

Weanling Nubian does

Gardening is Robin's main focus. She has an herb garden, two additional garden areas and her pride and joy, a 133' x 32' hoophouse. She received a grant last year to build the hoophouse; it took all last summer to put it up so this is the first year she is growing in it.


Because it is just April, much of the gardens are bare and still to be planted, but she has early crops and perennials in the ground and seedlings under lights in the garden shed.


In the hoophouse she's growing mangels (a large cylindrical beet used for animal feed) as well as the more common beet varieties, and several kinds of lettuce and onions. She even grows sugar beets, which Robin says her mother pressure cans, then uses the liquid in the jars as a sweetener.


This is part of the herb garden. Robin grows her herbs in galvanized tubs and empty protein tubs. The ground under the tubs is covered with landscape fabric and topped with a deep layer of wood chips to keep the weeds down. She has a dozen or more culinary and medicinal herbs growing here, all large, well-established plants.


I followed Robin through the hoophouse and the gardens, tasting plants as we went and watching a pair of hawks that circled above us. Robin has lost a few hens to hawks lately so we kept an eye on these as we visited.

Artichokes in the hoophouse

How did you become interested in organic gardening?

Robin: I have been organic gardening since I was a child. My parents had natural, chemical-free gardens in Wisconsin when I was growing up. My mother, a teacher, loves nature and always tried to garden as close to nature as she possibly could. Also my children's great-grandma raised huge gardens in Kansas and taught me many ways to keep bugs and weeds at bay and to utilize water during the hot times of the year. I learned over the years from them how to best read my soil and plants.

Robin built a mushroom habitat in a moist corner of the hoophouse.

What do you sell at the farmers market?

Robin: I've been selling at the local farmers market for seven years; I'm also the secretary. I sell a variety of produce including heirloom tomatoes, peppers, Seminole pumpkins, purple hulled peas, okra, green beans, English peas, carrots and different types of culinary herbs. I love trying different varieties and I save seeds as much as I possibly can. The types of veggies I grow depends a lot on the weather and how dry or wet our summers will be.

Mulch and compost are used in abundance in all of Robin's gardens. The leaves from the wooded areas of the property and bedding from the goat stalls are all put to good use. She uses the trench method of composting.

What do you enjoy most about gardening?

Robin: Even though I love to watch my plants grow from tiny seeds to healthy thriving adult plants and to be able to harvest the fruit to eat, seed saving is my favorite thing to do. I harvest the seed from the mature fruit and dry them to provide for my gardens in the coming years, thus assuring my family will always have food on the table.

Planted in newspaper pots, many varieties of pepper seedlings are growing under lights in the garden shed. Robin uses regular shop light fixtures that hang from the wooden shelf above, and fluorescent bulbs.

What inspires you?

Robin: My mother inspires me with her love and passion for nature and the ways she has tried over the years to teach me to respect and to care for our world, even if it's just our own little corner of it.

Tomato seedlings

What are your plans for the future?

Robin: My plans for the future include continuing to add more perennial varieties of produce, herbs and flowers, and utilizing our new hoop house to the best of our abilities.


You can visit Robin at Red Sky Farm's facebook page.


Other posts in this series:
White Star Farm
Red Sky Farm
Summer Winds Farm

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My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at: 
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