New farmer Andrew Linker of Humble Vine Farm in Cleveland plans to keep more than 25,000 pounds of waste from the landfill by bringing it back to the community in the form of fresh produce in a year’s time.
Humble Vine Farm
Where: 946 Mountain Meadows Road, Cleveland
More information: sites.google.com/view/humblevinefarm.
Humble Vine Farm broke ground in March. Linker, 30, said his first year will be a “test run” of what to make and when.
“I decided to grow food and sell it to people because I am scared we could lose the small farmer. We are doing pretty well at having and growing a lot of food quantity-wise here in Georgia and in the United States, but I think the quality of food has gone down a huge amount,” Linker said. “It is important for people to know what food should taste like.”
Linker, a University of North Georgia graduate with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies, said he did not come from a farming background.
“There are a lot of people interested in the way their food is grown and want organic food, but there is a huge disconnect in the way it is produced and what people get at the supermarkets,” Linker said. “I didn’t grow up with the opportunities to see how plants can be taken from the farms to me or the grocery store. This is a learning experience for me.”
Linker makes his rounds every Wednesday collecting food waste from about six local businesses. He is able to compost kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, tea leaves and leaves collected from lawns to help nurture the soil on the farm.
“Compost was the first thing that I knew I had to develop a system for because it is important to get that organic matter into the soil,” Linker said.
Linker picks up tea bags from Chick-fil-A on Jesse Jewell Parkway, as well as coffee filters and coffee grounds from Inman Perk in Gainesville.
“It took me a long time to make those connections and get enough that I can now go from someone’s waste to growing food with it,” Linker said. “Sometimes I get confused looks, but once they realize all of the potential to turn waste that normally goes to the landfill into something that grows better plants and conserves water, it definitely lets people feel good about our efforts.”
The process of hot composting these materials takes about a month. It requires the perfect amount of air, water and biology for everything to reach consistent temperatures of more than 131 F for at least three days before it is spread around the plants.
“I plan to plant hops in the spring and they will be my first experiment with a complete row of coffee grounds and tea bags of soil,” Linker said.
Linker said what he does is called “up-cycling.”
“It feels like saving the world. I studied how much we tend to destroy the world and sometimes you just feel helpless,” Linker said. “Instead of focusing on what I can’t do, one of my life goals is to do what I can.”
Linker farms on 4 acres of land at Humble Vine Farm. His crops include carrots, parsnips, lettuce, daikon radishes for tilling, clover, winter rye grass, dinosaur kale, cilantro, radishes for eating, broccoli, okra, asparagus, arugula, spinach, beets, tomatoes, heirloom pumpkins, sunflowers, sorghum, curly cress and red radish.
“I want people to be involved with how long it takes and to see the small steps,” Linker said. “I think it is important because it builds community and you can know exactly what you are putting in your body. I want to be able to say, ‘Here is how you grow food like that.’”
Humble Vine Farm hosts a workshop on the last Sunday of each month. “Coffee and Compost,” a workshop on methods for composting at home, is set for Nov. 26 at the farm at 946 Mountain Meadows Road in Cleveland.
“I like people to come out here and talk about local food and give them an educational aspect,” Linker said. “I want people to be able to come here, buy food and learn ways to compost.”
Humble Vine Farm is a Certified Naturally Grown Farm in its first year of production. Products are available at Northeast Georgia Locally Grown. For more information visit sites.google.com/view/humblevinefarm.