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Weksny Acres

An Early Start

Eric head shotI have learned over the course of the last three years that there is a vast difference between having a casual hobby garden and growing food to help your family become self-sufficient and produce income for the farm. All through my childhood, when the weather started warming up, my dad would start looking at seed catalogs; we tilled the garden and got everything ready for warm weather.  When the weather finally warmed up and stayed warm, that’s when we started planting and weeding.  It was time to “play” in the garden.

It’s a little different when you are growing to feed your family and others.  At least it is for me, anyway.  I find myself thinking about the spring plants when most people are shutting down their gardens for the winter.  With the usually mild winters here in South Carolina, we can grow three gardens a year, spring/summer, fall, and winter.  It means a constant rotation of planting, seed starting, and the like.

Here on the farm, we started the seeds for many of our herbs and vegetables during the first week of January.  I know that you are thinking that it is way too early to start plants, even in South Carolina!  But I have learned a few things along the way.  Last year we started using low tunnels to cover crops that we planted, and actually had good success with it.  This year, we finally got to add our first greenhouse to the operation. 

Hoop assembly for greenhouse 

It was made of simple construction with ¾” PVC, 6 mil plastic, and a wooden frame.  The treated wood frame was secured to the ground with posts set 3 feet deep. We gave the hoop frame more strength by placing a 10 foot piece of ½ metal conduit piping inside the top piece of the PVC assembly. 

The hoops were attached to the wooden frame with metal conduit brackets  The end hoops were attached to the base with treated 2x4s and conduit brackets.  It took two of us to install the hoops to the frame, and it went nice and quick. 

Hoop greenhouse construction 1 

I placed two sheets of plastic over the hoops for the cover, to make an air cushion to help insulate the air inside.

Greenhouse door 

 For the door, we repurposed a broken storm door by cutting it to size for the doorway.   The greenhouse measures 12 by 14 feet with a height of about 7 feet in the center. We have had our cool-spring plants inside since the beginning of February, and they are growing great.  In fact, I walked inside the greenhouse the other day and it felt like an 80-degree day.  Outside the greenhouse it was 40 degrees.  We have been able to duplicate the temperature conditions of Florida in our simple greenhouse. 

Plant trays 

This week, we are repotting about 250 tomato seedlings into bigger trays.  Then they will be heading out to the greenhouse, to make room for more seed starts. 

We are excited about our greenhouse and how it’s performed so far.  In fact, I am already looking at building 3 more just like this one, so we can grow year-round here.  If you like the idea of eating fresh vegetables during the winter and early spring, consider building your own green house.  They don’t have to be expensive to build or very big, but they are well worth the effort.

Welcome to Weksny Acres

Eric head shotIn my heart I’ve always been a farmer. Regardless of anything else I’d done in my life, it was always there deep down in my core. It took nearly 29 years after striking out on my own before I was able to realize this dream. 

I grew up in the beautiful Pennsylvania Dutch country of eastern Lancaster County, PA.  well known home for generations of Amish and Mennonites in small towns like New Holland (my home town), Blue Ball, and Paradise.  During my childhood, I could walk outside our back door and gaze across the open fields of our neighbor’s farm, smell the freshness of spring and watch the crops grow.  I spent many a day roaming through the fields, investigating the barns, and catching crayfish in my Amish neighbors’ springhouses.  After a stint in the military, I went back home to Pennsylvania, until I started working with a small police department in rural North Carolina.  While there, I had my garden in the back yard, and even tried my hand at raising some ducks.  Every spring was a special time for me back then. It meant a trip back to Pennsylvania.  Even now when I think of those trips, the same image flashes through my mind…the image of cresting the hill and seeing miles of farmland in every direction, spread out like a patchwork quilt, with the telling smells of spring enveloping my senses.  It will always be an experience I treasure.  

PA Landscape 
Scenic Pennsylvania 

After Wendy and I married, we talked about the day when we could buy our piece of land and build our dream farm.  So when we found and purchased our property here, it became our turn to build and pass on this rich heritage to our children.  Our farming philosophy here is simple; if you heal and nurture the land, the land will take care of your needs for many years.  To me it is a matter of being a good steward of the land, livestock, and resources that we are blessed with. 

Weksny Acres is nestled on 3 acres in the north-central sand hills of South Carolina.  The home was originally built in 1856 overlooking a 500-acre plantation.  Being the history buff that I am, it’s a thrill for me to live in a home built during my favorite period of study. 

We currently raise American Guinea hogs, Dominique chickens, and Muscovy ducks as well as many varieties of vegetables and herbs. You won’t find much in the way of power equipment here. Not only don't we have much money, but we don't have that much land.  The implements that we do buy are mostly hand tools that fill more than one role. You might say that our "tool shed" is pretty sparse.  But that's okay; we have too much fun and enjoyment in getting our hands dirty.  I will admit that I love the smell of sweat and the feel of tired aching muscles after a good day of farming.  It’s a satisfying way to live.

We are in the process of expanding our little operation here, from the livestock, to our vegetables and herbs.  As we grow and become more self-sufficient, we want to share the things that we’ve learned with others who want to learn how to grow wholesome and nourishing food.

We are so excited about being asked to share our journey with you through Grit. It is our hope that you not only enjoy the journey, but that we might learn something from you.  Oh, and if you are ever in the neighborhood, stop on in and say hi.  But be careful, you might just get your hands dirty. 

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