Skidaway Farms has been a dream for a number of people at the Landings since 2005 when Paul Kurilla of Public Works and Jerriann Kirkwood of Skidaway Audubon visited the Hampton Island Preserve and saw the developer-constructed organic garden. Under the Authority of Skidaway Audubon, a Development Committee was formed and met for the first time on April 9, 2010. The challenge was locating a suitable piece of property and the search finally ended when Mike Perham of Landings Club opined that their old sod farm was currently rarely used as a spray field and that Skidaway Island utilities would probably agree to remove the spray heads. They did, and as they say, the rest is history.
Between April 9, 2010 and February 12, 2011 this committee worked tirelessly to plan and build Skidaway Farms. This included, creating the conceptual design and approving the actual layout, raising the estimated $80,000 dollars needed to construct the garden, working with Paul Kurilla and Chris John of ValleyCrest to optimize the design and plans, creating the draft By-laws and Regulations, developing the plot layout and the system of assigning plots to farmers, and finally planning the gate-opening celebration which took place on Feb 12, 2011.
The actual construction of the Farm included Duke’s Home Improvement constructing the double fence to keep out unwanted wildlife, and the raised beds. ValleyCrest contributed more than 500 hours of manpower, all necessary equipment, and tremendous expertise. Paul Kurilla of Public Works volunteered countless hours to supervise every aspect of the construction and drive the tractors as well.
A critical aspect of the construction was the work-parties. During January and early February almost every day a call went out to farmer-wannabies to come to the site and help by clearing debris, raking gravel, pounding crush and run, and generally providing the and labor required. Over that time more than 40 people volunteered for 2-41 hours each. It was a time for the future farmers to feel a part of this new community and help make it a reality.
All agree that the months of fund raising and gravel raking were well worth it once the flowers and vegetables began to grow.
Skidaway Farms Development Committee:
- Blake Caldwell: Chair
- Jerriann Kirkwood: President, Skidaway Audubon
- Mal Welch: Communications
- Valerie Hinesley: Landscape Architect
- Bette Feingold: Landings Garden Club Representative
- Pat Barry: Green Thumb Garden Club Representative
- Lynn Schwartz: Costal Master Gardeners Representative
- Jay Spencer: Modena Representative
- Cathy Adler: Cha Bella Fundraiser Chair
Photos by Doug Herrick