Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and if it weren’t for ongoing shelter in place orders across most of the U.S. due to the threat of COVID-19 (coronavirus), there would be celebrations planned nationwide. But for Benji and Angie Adams, owners of BAMMM Farms in Blackshear, every day is Earth Day.
“The end product is produce, but our main focus is improving the soil we’re growing the produce in,” Angie says. “Whatever we do we want to make sure it’s restoring something, that we’re not taking away from the earth, but doing what we can to protect it and improve it.”
If one crop pulls nitrogen from the soil, the Adams will plant a cover crop to replenish nitrogen the following season. They also work to create biomass, the organic substance in soil needed for healthy plant growth.
“The more organic matter you have in the soil, the less watering you have to do and if you get a lot of rain at one time, it absorbs it but holds on to it,” Benji points out.
BAMMM Farms doesn’t waste any material they use either.
“We recycle everything. We don’t like to waste,” Benji adds.
The couple launched their farm three years ago, first selling worm castings (a natural fertilizer composed of worm poop) and then expanding into produce production. Last year, they purchased five acres on Youmans Chapel Road and are currently farming 2.5 acres of the land this season.
The Adams’ journey into regenerative, organic farming came about as they sought a cure for Benji’s auto-immune disease, a condition that took over a year for doctors to diagnose. Benji began a pain program at Mayo Clinic focused on natural healing methods through proper nutrition and stress management.
As the Adams began to see positive results from the program, Benji started to grow produce in raised beds and buckets and launched the worm casting business. Their passion for the business grew and so did their bounty — soon they had too much produce for their own consumption, so the Adams launched BAMMM Farms and began selling their wares online and at Waygreen, a farmer’s market in Waycross.
“We just had a lot of produce so we started selling produce also,” Angie says.
The Adams and their three children just might be the earthiest folks you’ll meet in Pierce County. Their passion for natural farming methods and even worm poop is contagious.
BAMMM Farms uses red wigglers to create their worm casting fertilizer. One pound of worms can compost one pound of castings in a 24 hour period, absorbing the toxins from what they eat and leaving behind a natural fertilizer rich in nutrients plants need from the soil.
Those castings hold onto the nutrients, releasing them as the plants need them.
“The worm castings will hold onto nutrients it has and releases them slowly. The plants … will take up out of the soil what they need. It’s a more natural way to fertilize,” Angie explains.
Even their fertilizing methods hold true with the principles of Earth Day — giving back to the soil the nutrients farming has sucked dry over the years.
“We’re actually not fertilizing the plant. We’re feeding the soil that feeds the plants. Everything starts with the soil. If you’ve got healthy soil, you’ve got healthy plants,” Benji says.
Even novice growers can use castings successfully because they won’t burn plants like standard fertilizers can do when overused. Producers can even plant seeds directly into concentrated worm castings, Benji says.
With many families spending more time at home during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, people are looking for activities they can do with the whole family this spring. BAMMM Farms is seeing a steady increase in demand for their worm castings and customers are asking for gardening advice, too.
The Adams’ encourage customers to join the regenerative farming movement and are quick to help those folks design garden spaces in an effort to make the most of their acreage.
“People don’t realize how much vegetables you can grow in a small area,” Benji says.
The BAMMM Farm on Youmans Chapel Road features 30 inch by 50 foot long perfectly straight rows of produce, all plowed with an “old International tractor” Angie says.
This season BAMMM is growing eight varieties of tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, sweet corn, snap beans, pea varieties, lettuce varieties and sunflowers.
Customers can buy directly from BAMM Farms via Facebook, eBay or through the Waygreen market. They hope to soon offer a weekly subscription service for customers who would like a fresh box of seasonal produce each week.
The family-owned farm is working towards USDA organic certification, but is already operating by the standards required for certification. Their application should be completed next year.
BAMMM Farms supports community farming and a direct connection between growers and their customers. The Adams’ customers can ask and get answers for how long their produce has been sitting out and how many people have handled it — facts that are a mystery when buying from most chain grocery stores.
“It’s about getting back to how growing food used to be when our great-grandparents used to grow … we want that community connection with what we grow,” Angie says.
“I can tell you what row it came off of, and who’s handled it from the field to you,” Benji says. “I can tell you the date and time it was actually picked.”
Yes, every day is Earth Day for the Adams couple and their three children Megan, Matthew and Mason (the three “M’s” in BAMMM Farms).