Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 46

Hickory Grove Farm supplies Kennesaw State University
BY JANE F. GARVEY

U

rban agriculture has grown markedly in recent decades, as underutilized plots of urban land are
turned into community gardens. One
example of reclaimed urban land is
Hickory Grove Farm, which supplies
Kennesaw State University (KSU)
with much of its foodstuffs.
Jasper native Michael Blackwell
is the farm manager. The longtime
photographer grew up on a farm and
"was always a 'hobby farmer.'"
The 26-acre operation sits on an
abandoned Georgia Department of
Transportation site that the university has leased from the state. Twelve
acres are in production with tomatoes, strawberries and blackberries,
Tuscan kale, 150 chickens, and about
50 apple and pear trees, plus a few
producing peaches and plums.
Three greenhouses-and another that's under construction-constitute the core of the operation, but
the garden doesn't just feed KSU students; it also teaches them.
Every semester Blackwell in46

structs 35 to 40 students from all
sorts of majors-mostly women, he
observes-in the fundamentals of organic gardening.
"Organic practices work," he
says. "They're better for the soil and
for productivity."
That's right: organic. This former
concrete-laden site now is an organic
producer of comestibles. The program also uses the grass clippings
and leaves from campus landscapers for compost, saving the university
that dumping cost.
Blackwell's team also is experimenting with developing new cultivars, such as a tomato to see if it can
achieve the same yield on a shorter
vine, making it ideal for small plots
and greenhouses.
Experiments are going on all
over Hickory Grove Farm.
Holding a doctorate in applied
and environmental microbiology,
Kyle Gabriel, mycologist, devotes
all of his time to research. With a
$60,000 U.S. Department of AgriculMore online at www.georgiamagazine.org

ture grant to explore specialty crops
in Georgia, Gabriel plans to grow
mushrooms in a pair of temperature-,
humidity- and CO2-controlled, highly
insulated 20-foot shipping containers.
He's looking at using waste streams
from other industries, such as spent
grains from Dry County Brewing Co.
in Kennesaw, to grow mushrooms.
Gabriel is not the only researcher
working at the site. Associate professor of biology Sigurdur Greipsson has
been awarded a grant to experiment
with using grasses to remove lead
from the soil in a lead-contaminated
corner of the property. And assistant
professor of construction management Charner Rodgers is building a
tiny house on the farm. The 1/8 acre
behind her tiny house will be used to
demonstrate how affordable housing
and high-intensity urban agriculture
can be combined.
With campuses in Kennesaw and
Marietta and 35,000 students plus
staff, KSU Executive Chef Brian Jones
has a lot of folks to feed-5,000 to
GEORGIA MAGAZINE

LAUREN KRESS / KENNESAW STATE UNIVERSITY

Food for thought


http://www.georgiamagazine.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - April 2018

Contents
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 3
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 5
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 6
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 7
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 8
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Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Cover3
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