Nisani Farm

Background

Although officially named Nisani Farm, I simply think of it as The Farm. It is a mostly sustainable, Certified Naturally Grown vegetable farm located in a small town in Southern Virginia called Phenix, population of 284.

With 50 historical acres including indigenous history and colonial history that is centuries old, I plan on uncovering some of the mysteries that the farm holds.

When I was eight, my once peace-corps volunteer parents decided to by a rundown “fixer-upper” of a property. This property contained an unlivable farm house, two tobacco drying barns, a pig-stye, chicken coup and three sheds, most of which were built using trees from our property. We ended up spending every single weekend at the farm, driving the 6 hours from the DC area where my sister and I went to school and my parents worked, every Friday night and Sunday morning so that we could create a livable space. This commute lasted for over a decade.

A foggy green spring day at the Farm looking out to an old Tobacco drying barn covered in vines
A foggy green spring day at the Farm looking out to an old Tobacco drying barn covered in vines

We have 30 acres of forest and 20 acres of pasture which we let go “wild” for pollinators. The fields change color throughout the year as new wildflowers come in waves, moving from wild Sweet Peas and green grasses to Black-Eyed Susan’s, and Queen-Anne’s lace, to Goldenrod and yellow Johnson grass. The natural portions of the farm were how I entertained myself as a child and well into my teens and 20’s, trying to learn every plant, insects, fungi, constellation, tree, and animal that I could. I truly immersed myself into this ecosystem every weekend, away from cell service or the internet, only the gardens, the forest, the creeks, the bugs, and books to entertain me.

This past year I spent isolated at the farm, and for the first time I was able to see the progression of the seasons and how the organisms changed from one week to the next.

It is my paradise, a place that I can escape to without many distractions, with endless discovery still to do.

My habitation journal will be on Nisani farm and the two properties surrounding our property, specifically the wetlands up to Cub creek and the poorhouse.

The forests are my escape. In the spring they erupt green from every place I look: Arisaema triphyllum or Jack in the Pulpit nestle close to the ground, displaying drab pitcher shaped flowers that attract flies for pollination, or Oak Galls growing from the stems of large oak trees like large walnuts, letting a cynipoid wasp incubate within that scar of a tree.

Walnut-like Oak Galls
Walnut-like Oak Galls

 These little treasures I find, I collect in the form of photos and knowledge. Researching the intricate and complex system of Oak Galls and learning about their similarities to human embryos, or the evolutionary tactics Arisaema triphyllum use to reproduce. This Is how I connect with my environment, by coming to as much of a scientific understanding that I can for as many things as I can, as if the forest and I share these secrets together.

These secrets I hold dear to my heart, and I search for these treasures like a Bess Beetle searches for the perfectly rotting log.

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