Mule Bottom

Mule Bottom is where it all began. The first time we descended the steep hill and gazed on this river bottom along the Harpeth River we felt a sense of home and the spirit of the earth as did the indigenous people before us. The ten acres had been in GMO production as long as that style of farming had been around and our first goal as stewards was to heal the land. We wrote our Whole Farm Plan here along with our mission statement and knew from the get go that we wanted to use organic practices striving to become certified organic. We enrolled in the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) "Transition To Organic" program that included establishing a perennial cover crop and pollinator habitat. We first planted cowpeas and sunflowers for wildlife and to bring in organic matter to help establish our organic medium red clover and orchard grass. All these plantings were done separately with a hand seeder to get a feel for the land and to coincide with our souls yearning to transform the land back in time. The name Mule Bottom reaches back to a simpler time as well. Our pollinator habitat consisted of 500 shrubs in several plantings of Elderberry, Chickasaw and American Plum, Indigo Bush, Swamp Dogwood and Beauty Berry.

In the summer of 2015 we had a successful planting of flowers and produce for our own use and to share with our neighbors. Mule Bottom has been our classroom to explore and learn in while finding solace in the healing of the land. We did a lot of things right and the mistakes were just lessons learned to teach us through experience. The countless bees, birds, and other pollinators were as happy as we were that we had put roots here. Our efforts encouraged our neighbors to take their land out of conventional farming and experiment with their own creative thoughts of the land and a whole river bottom was transformed. We are still feeling our way in this fertile floodplain river bottom with its challenges of occasional rising waters. We dream of wines, preserves and tinctures from the fruits and leaves of our pollinator shrubs as well as grass fed meats in our established lush pasture. One thing is certain at this point in time-Mule Bottom is a healthier ecosystem than we found it and for that we can feel satisfaction in our souls.